In the race to succeed Texas House Speaker Joe Straus in his San Antonio-based house district, one candidate is reportedly demonstrating uncertainty regarding how helpful the speaker’s endorsement might be.
After a six-way primary race in House District 121, two candidates are scheduled to square off in the primary runoff election next month. Matt Beebe, a small business owner endorsed by Texans for Fiscal Responsibility and Texas Right to Life, is facing San Antonio business attorney and former Alamo Heights School Board President Steve Allison.
Sources inside the district report that Allison’s campaign is conducting phone polling, a common practice for campaigns, in which various attacks on Beebe are tested alongside supporting arguments for his own candidacy.
The question raising eyebrows?
Allison is allegedly polling whether a public endorsement from Straus would help or hurt his campaign.
It has been long believed that Allison is Straus’ hand-picked successor for the seat. The candidate praised the speaker during a candidate forum in February, stating that he “hoped to work with members of both parties like Straus did.”
But after holding office himself, Allison is no political neophyte. He knows Straus’ stock amongst Republican primary voters statewide has declined consistently throughout his tenure, hitting bottom after his work to obstruct conservative efforts like property tax reform and privacy legislation during the special legislative session last year.
In February, Straus became the first lawmaker ever to be formally censured by the Republican Party of Texas. And while his name did not appear on the ballot this year, Beebe’s success as the highest vote-getter in the primary election is itself a rebuke of Straus by his own district. Beebe had mounted two previously unsuccessful campaigns against Straus in 2012 and 2014.
It is unsurprising that Allison’s campaign, despite being run by establishment consulting firm Murphy Nasica, would be wary about publicizing their Straus endorsement. Even in his own backyard, the Straus brand is politically toxic to a large number of Republicans.
Whether or not Allison decides to go public with his Straus endorsement, voters will have their opportunity to weigh in when early voting begins next month. Election day is May 22.