In a heated Texas Senate race, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick today took the extraordinary step of endorsing a conservative challenger over an incumbent member.
In a video released this morning, Patrick made official his endorsement of State Rep. Pat Fallon (Prosper)’s campaign against incumbent State Sen. Craig Estes (Wichita Falls) in the Republican primary. Referring to Fallon as a “principled conservative who puts you first,” Patrick tells voters “I know both candidates in Senate District 30 and I choose Fallon.”
In a statement following the endorsement, Patrick pointed towards a recent controversial ad by Estes that depicts a Fallon impersonator in a Catholic confessional, saying he was “stunned to see the recent attack…mocking Pat’s religious faith.” State Rep. Drew Springer (R–Muenster,) a Roman Catholic, called on Estes to pull the ad last week, calling it unacceptable to mock the the Catholic faith and the sacrament of confession. Fallon is Catholic as well and played football at the University of Notre Dame.
Patrick then pivoted from criticizing Estes’ offensive ad to highlighting the incumbent’s failed record:
This is not the first time Senator Estes has used offensive and inaccurate language. In 2015, when Senator Estes personally blocked the bill to ban sanctuary cities, he said he didn’t want Texans to be “like Nazis,” checking people’s papers.
In 2015 Senator Estes also aligned himself with our opponents. He was the only Republican Senator who voted with the Democrats to keep the 21-vote rule, known as the blocker bill, which allowed liberal Democrats to maintain veto power over every Republican bill passed in the Texas Senate.
The endorsement doesn’t come as a surprise to those that have been following the race closely. Indeed, Patrick’s campaign finance reports released earlier this year showed an in-kind donation of polling to “State Senator” Fallon’s campaign.
.@DanPatrick feeling confident about @FallonForTexas campaign: already calling him Senator! #txlege pic.twitter.com/rIRZmUMNNH
— Brandon Waltens (@bwaltens) February 7, 2018
Estes, a 17 year incumbent, has a a career “F” on the Fiscal Responsibility Index and has long served as a roadblock for conservative reforms like ending in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. In contrast, Fallon, who has served in the House since 2012, has earned a career A-rating on the Index and has been a reliable advocate for taxpayers in the legislature.
Fallon, an aggressive campaigner, has been touring the district and debating Estes in virtually every area of the North Texas district. Should he win the election, observers expect that Fallon would flip SD-30 from being represented by one of the chamber’s most liberal Republicans to one of its most conservative.
Such a change could be very important depending on the success of conservative attempts to dislodge State Sen. Kel Seliger (R–Amarillo) who usually serves as Estes’ “dance partner” in working with Democrats to block conservative bills from even being considered. Under the current rules of the Texas Senate, two Republicans partnering with a united Democratic Caucus can successfully scuttle legislation from coming to the floor.
If voters decide to retire Estes, it would help give conservatives vital breathing room as they work to defend conservative State Sen. Bob Hall (R–Edgewood) from being defeated in the primary by a liberal Republican as well as State Sens. Konni Burton (R–Colleyville) and Don Huffines (R–Dallas) from being dislodged by a Democrat in November.
Early voting is currently underway in the Republican primary and the race will be decided on March 6th.