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With the Austin crony establishment cartel reeling from the defeat of two more powerful committee chairmen at the hands of conservative voters, some lawmakers have to be questioning the extravagant spending by the cartel’s top spokesman on his own re-election.

To re-cap, State Reps. Wayne Smith (R-Baytown) and Doug Miller (R-New Braunfels) were tossed from office in run-off elections on Tuesday. They join ousted Austin crony cartel leaders Debbie Riddle (R-Tomball), Marsha Farney (R-Georgetown), Myra Crownover (R-Denton), Jim Keffer (R-Eastland), John Otto (R-Dayton), Patricia Harless (R-Spring) and others who were chased from office in 2016 either through voluntary or voter-forced retirement. Meanwhile, State Rep. Susan King (R-Abiline) was humiliated in her bid for the Senate, losing 60-40 to Dr. Dawn Buckingham.

Add to it the (political) near-death experience of the powerful chairman of the State Affairs Committee, Byron Cook (R-Corsicana), and the crony establishment has a serious problem. Not only can none of them get promoted to higher office, but they are also losing a war of attrition.

This makes the decision of House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) to spend $4 million on his own re-election campaign even more perplexing. He barely cleared 60 percent, after spending three times what U.S. House candidates must spend to win highly competitive federal races. He way over-spent and dramatically under-delivered.

Some House members wonder why he didn’t shift some of those dollars to his allies. A million extra bucks to Smith or Miller might have helped, if they hadn’t been spent on his own campaign.

Money only goes so far, and the reckless expenditure of $4 million indicates just how rotten Straus knows his standing is even in his own blue-blood Bexar County district.

As the top spokesman for the Austin crony cartel, Straus had to win – even at the expense of nearly a dozen of his allies.

Loyalty, it seems, only runs so deep in the crony cartel.