The lowest-rated Republican senator – and the only one to not endorse Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s bid for reelection – has received the endorsement of LGBT-backed Texas Association of Business. The group’s support of State Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) is certain to further drive a wedge between the moderate lawmaker and the largely conservative Texas Senate.
While TAB claims to advocate for free market, pro-business principles, its political alignment has shifted consistently leftward over recent years. The most recent legislative session demonstrates the business group’s most dramatic shift when they strongly opposed Senate Bill 6, known as the Texas Privacy Act.
Despite the fact that the bill would have actually protected businesses from city bathroom regulations, TAB claimed it would be discriminatory and be “bad for Texas businesses.” In reality, the law simply protected private businesses from local “non-discrimination” and related ordinances, ensuring TAB’s own members would retain the freedom to set their own bathroom policies.
To many, the group’s staunch opposition to the bill came as a surprise, however, documents leaked to Texas Scorecard earlier this year shed more light on the matter.
A list of TAB “coalition investors,” along with other financial documents, revealed that 65 percent of TAB’s campaign budget was comprised of donations from LGBT lobbying groups, such as the Human Rights Campaign, Freedom for All Americans, and the Gill Foundation.
Interestingly, Seliger voted for the Texas Privacy Act. According to LGBT media group DallasVoice, “His support of that issue was brushed off as ’OK’ because of the part of the state he represents.”
Seliger, on the other hand, was the only Republican senator to vote against property tax reform in 2017, standing in opposition to the interests of TAB’s members.
As a result, Seliger has consistently received endorsements from tax-funded lobbying organizations such as the Texas Municipal League (TML) and the Texas Association of Counties (TAC) – even earning special recognitions, such as TML’s “Legislator of the Year” award.
Under the guise of protecting “local government control,” Seliger sided with both groups when he opposed the package of property tax reforms in Senate Bill 1. If passed, SB 1 would have lowered the threshold that triggers an election when cities or counties increase property taxes. In other words, the reform would have empowered taxpayers, by giving property owners a say over higher tax bills.
The West Texas senator faces two challengers this election cycle: Mike Canon of Midland and Victor Leal of Amarillo. With Seliger’s past and current endorsements – coupled with a voting record that has earned him the lowest score of any Republican senator on Texans for Fiscal Responsibility’s Fiscal Index – convincing his largely conservative constituency to grant him another term in office will likely be a challenge.