A freshman state representative from East Texas is going to have to defend his weak record on pro-life issues as one of the leaders of the Texas pro-life movement is challenging him head-on in the Republican primary.

Emily Kebodeaux Cook, the political director and general counsel for Texas Right to Life and and life-long resident of Liberty County, has filed a campaign treasurer appointment to launch a campaign against State Rep. Ernest Bailes (R–Shepherd), a freshman member of the House and professional deer-breeder from San Jacinto County.

Bailes earned extremely low marks for a Republican on Right to Life’s Pro-Life Scorecard, earning just a 42% on the group’s issues. In explaining the low score, which was lower than the score earned by several Democrats, Texas Right to Life noted:

“When Representative Schaefer offered an amendment to protect preborn children with disabilities from painful abortions after 20 weeks, Bailes opposed the life-saving amendment. Additionally, he added a statement for his vote in the House journal, explaining that his vote against protecting disabled preborn children was “based on convictions beyond mere policy or principle…I cannot in good faith dictate to another individual how they should cope with such a scenario of imminent peril.” Representative Bailes also earned multiple penalties on his Pro-Life Scorecard for registering his opposition to six separate Pro-Life budget amendments. Bailes is one of Texas Right to Life’s 2017 Disappointments.”

Cook has helped lead Texas Right to Life’s operations in Austin to pass legislation to protect lives and the rights of Texans. Emily and her husband Justus recently welcomed their first child, Andrew, into the world. Cook says that the birth of her first child has given her a renewed commitment to the pro-life cause.

Bailes, who won a multi-way primary in 2016, not only scored poorly on pro-life issues. He also was one of the lowest-scoring Republicans on the Fiscal Responsibility Index, earning a 42% rating on fiscal issues as well.

In the course of earning that rating, Bailes voted against strong state spending limits, voted to make it easier for school districts to raise property taxes, voted to raid the Rainy Day Fund, and voted to cut off debate on property tax reform efforts.

Tony McDonald

Tony McDonald serves as General Counsel to Texas Scorecard. A licensed and practicing attorney, Tony specializes in the areas of civil litigation, legislative lawyering, and non-profit regulatory compliance. Tony resides in Austin with his wife and daughter and attends St. Paul Lutheran Church.