In his campaign against taxpayer champion Matt Rinaldi, Bennett Ratliff is touting a small group of “conservative” legislative endorsements. But the group is composed of liberals, lobbyists, losers, and lame ducks.
Of the thirteen legislative endorsements touted by Ratliff, ten either lost their own Republican primary race, or retired in order to avoid a defeat.
Unsurprisingly, the legislators backing Ratliff are anything but “conservative” Republicans.
The most notorious are loyalists to liberal House Speaker Joe Straus (R–San Antonio), including Byron Cook, Jimmie Don Aycock, John Otto, and Patricia Harless.
All four earned failing scores on the Fiscal Responsibility Index this session. According to a non-partisan study by Rice University, all four are also ranked near the bottom of the House Republican caucus, closer to many Democrats than conservatives from their own party.
They also pushed measures most Texans would find offensive and obnoxious. Cook tried to criminalize the recording of legislators by citizens at the Capitol, pushed for driver’s licenses for illegal aliens, and is infamous for killing both a 2011 ban of sanctuary cities and Gov. Abbott’s historic ethics reform agenda in 2015.
Aycock was the only Republican member of the house to join Democrats in a vote to increase property taxes last year, while Harless infamously encouraged Democrats to vote in Republican primaries, which she admitted helped her win re-election.
Aycock, Harless, and Otto had the good sense to retire rather than face reelection. Cook will learn his fate on March 1st.
Ratliff isn’t just touting the support of lame duck liberal legislators. He highlights endorsements from former senators Bob Deuell and John Carona, and former representative Vicki Truitt. All three were defeated in the Republican primary because they had liberal voting records.
Ratliff even goes so far as to tout the endorsement of former representative Jim Pitts. After resigning in disgrace as part of the UT admissions scandal, Pitts has gone to work as a lobbyist for strip clubs.
Ratliff’s deception goes beyond equating liberal legislators and lobbyists with “conservative” bona fides. He also lists many of the same individuals more than once to artificially inflate the size of his list.
Many of the names listed multiple times are the same current or former liberals and lobbyists, such as Jim Pitts, Vicki Truitt, Jimmie Don Aycock, Byron Cook, Bob Phelps, Patricia Harless, Rose Cannaday, and Bob Duell.
Ratliff even included his former political consultant, Bryan Eppstein as a supporter. Eppstein is mostly known for helping government contractors and their crony “vote yes” PACs pass excessive local debt propositions.
Voters shouldn’t be fooled by Ratliff’s propaganda. Rice University professor Mark Jones has succinctly summarized the race:
“While Rinaldi ranked as the most conservative of these 154 Republican representatives (over the last three sessions), Ratliff ranked as the 126th most conservative. The vast ideological gap separating these candidates provides GOP primary voters in northwest Dallas County with two very disparate ideological options on March 1.”
Considering their respective voting records, known political affiliations, and advertised endorsements, we couldn’t agree more.