Since entering the Texas House in 2017, State Rep. Ernest Bailes of Shepherd has amassed a voting record as one of the most liberal Republicans in the House.

Now, the three-term lawmaker finds himself with three challengers in the Republican primary election.

Since entering the Texas House, Bailes has worked against conservative reforms and sided with Democrats to grow government. 

Bailes represents House District 18 in southeast Texas. During the most recent session, Bailes earned a 38 on the Fiscal Responsibility Index, one of the lowest scores of any Republican. On the ratings published by the Young Conservatives of Texas, Bailes scores a 60. He has also earned a failing grade from Texas Right to Life.

Bailes voted to allow Democrats to chair key committees, letting liberal Democrats be in charge of legislation regarding education, business and industry, and transportation. He also fought against a rule proposal that would require record votes for legislation in committees; his vote kept the legislative process shrouded in secrecy, denying citizens the chance to hold lawmakers accountable.

Despite the failure of unreliable energy sources like wind and solar leaving millions of Texans without electricity last year, Bailes voted against every opportunity to reform a program that provides taxpayer subsidies for the unreliable energy sources.

During the 87th regular legislative session in 2021, Bailes was among six other Republican lawmakers who joined with Democrats to author legislation seeking to expand Medicaid in Texas, under the terms of the Affordable Care Act or “ObamaCare.”

Meanwhile, the Republican Party of Texas’ platform states the party’s direct opposition to the expansion of Medicaid:

  • Plank 257: “We support Medicaid block grants to the states and return Medicaid to its original purpose to be temporary assistance. We oppose any further expansion of Medicaid.”
  • Plank 265: “We recommend the creation of the State of Texas Health Savings Account, with funds in excess of those needed in the Rainy Day Fund, with the purpose of enabling the state to develop reserves sufficient to exist the federal Medicaid program, which will not expire nor be utilized for any other purpose.”

When the House debated a proposed Brain Institute of Texas, which would be charged with researching brain-related health and diseases, he was one of only 13 Republican lawmakers to vote against adding porn addiction and gender dysphoria to their areas of study.

Plank 285 of the Republican Party of Texas platform says, “The State of Texas shall recognize that pornography is a public health crisis.” 

In 2018, Bailes even joined Democrats for a campaign rally in Houston.

Bailes is being challenged in the Republican primary by Janis Holt, Ronnie “Bubba” Tallos, and Stephen Missick.

Early voting in the Republican primary election continues through February 25. Election Day is March 1.

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens