With a disastrous record in the Texas House and recent calls for gun control, Texans won’t be surprised to learn that State Rep. Jason Villalba (R—Dallas) could face a tough reelection.
On Monday, Dallas business owner Lisa Luby Ryan, who operates an interior design firm and the antique home furnishings store Vintage Living in Dallas, validated earlier rumors she was considering a run and announced her campaign against Villalba in the Republican primary.
“I’m simply overwhelmed at the initial support we have already earned and grateful for the caliber of individuals joining this campaign,” said Ryan in a news release. “Today’s announcement sends a loud and clear message that this district believes that we can do better than our current representation. I am running to provide voters a clear choice, and with this great support I intend to win.”
In her campaign announcement, Ryan also released an impressive list of supporters who are already endorsing her campaign. The list includes a bevy of conservative mainstays and a substantial number of prominent community business owners including Brint Ryan (no relation), a prominent tax consultant and chairman of the University of North Texas Board of Regents, who will serve as Lisa Luby Ryan’s campaign treasurer.
While Ryan’s background certainly plays into the amount of support she’s receiving in the district, and it’s also true that Villalba’s record has declined even further this session compared to his last, it’s likely that the donor community is supporting his opponent because Villalba has exhausted his usefulness.
While Villalba was, admittedly, a clownish and useless member of House Speaker Joe Straus’ team, he was a part of the team. But now, that team won’t be taking the field.
Given Straus’ announcement that he will not seek re-election and conservative efforts to amend the Republican caucus bylaws to ensure a more conservative Speaker is elected, Villalba is likely to be left on the outside looking in regardless of who is elected to be the next Speaker of the Texas House.
And it’s not just Dallas donors who have made that observation.
Indeed, at a recent lobby meeting hosted by Straus’ chief strategist, Gordon Johnson, Villalba didn’t even make the list of lawmakers that the group would try to “protect” in the upcoming Republican primary elections.
Given that Straus’ allies in the lobby were forced to spend more than $500,000 to protect Villalba in the 2016 primary, Villalba will be in serious trouble if the Austin political establishment hangs him out to dry.
Or if his constituents take a look at his record.