State Rep. Phil Stephenson (R–Wharton) was elected to serve House District 85 in 2012 and has spent the past 10 years earning a career rating of “F” from Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.

After receiving just 40 percent of the vote in the March 1 primary, he now faces former Waller County Commissioner Stan Kitzman in his first runoff election since taking office.

With a fairly strong conservative stance on social issues such as abortion, critical race theory, and school choice, Stephenson’s ultimate failure has been fiscal policy.

Although Stephenson has been rated 100 percent pro-life by Texas Right to Life, supported ending Democrat committee chairmanships, and voted for supporting charter schools alongside traditional public schools, his support for the expansion of Medicaid and increase in welfare spending demonstrate a fiscal policy position out of step with the majority of Republican voters in his district.

Because of Stephenson’s support for the aforementioned social issues as well as gun rights, election integrity, and parental rights, the Young Conservatives of Texas gave Stephenson a score of 65, the highest score of any of the four Republican incumbents facing runoff elections.

Nevertheless, Stephenson’s record of supporting the expansion of government regulations and legislation that increases government spending and wastes tax dollars must also be taken into account by voters who are subject to the ever-expanding government. With inflation on the rise and Texans’ property tax burdens continuing to increase, citizens will suffer the fallout of irresponsible fiscal policy by elected government servants.

According to Transparency USA, Stephenson’s top two donors this election cycle are Texans for Lawsuit Reform and Texas Sands PAC—both of which regularly donate across the aisle. Texans for Lawsuit Reform regularly donates to establishment Republicans intent on maintaining the status quo, while Texas Sands is a newly formed pro-gambling PAC intent on legalizing gambling in Texas.

Stephenson has also accepted donations in the past from disgraced former House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, despite Bonnen’s attempt to target Stephenson in 2019.

The runoff election is slated for May 24, where Stephenson will face Kitzman.

Sydnie Henry

A born and bred Texan, Sydnie serves as the Capitol Correspondent for Texas Scorecard. A 2021 graduate of Patrick Henry College with a B.A. in Government, Sydnie is utilizing her research and writing skills to spread truth to Texans.

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