After vowing to take the battle for school choice “to the ballot box,” Gov. Greg Abbott has endorsed his first challenger against a Republican incumbent this cycle. 

On Tuesday, Abbott announced his endorsement of Belton mom and pro-family advocate Hillary Hickland against incumbent State Rep. Hugh Shine (R–Belton). 

Shine was among 21 Republicans who joined Democrats in a vote to kill a school choice proposal in the House. 

“Hillary Hickland is the kind of new conservative leader we need in Austin to deliver results in the Texas House,” said Abbott. “This past year, she worked relentlessly to empower parents by traveling to Austin to advocate for Texas families and students. She will work with me to cut property taxes, expand education freedom, and secure the border from President Biden’s reckless open border policies.”

This is not expected to be the last endorsement Abbott makes against those opposed to his top legislative priority.

After school choice opponent State Rep. Kyle Kacal (R–Bryan) announced his retirement yesterday, Abbott quickly endorsed his challenger Trey Wharton.

Abbott has also endorsed all incumbent Republicans running for re-election that supported school choice. 

In 2018, Abbott endorsed a slate of challengers to three incumbent members. Only one of those challengers was successful. Abbott has largely avoided endorsing against incumbents since then, making an exception for Stan Kitzman in a runoff election last cycle.

As of publishing, Shine did not comment on Abbott’s endorsement of his opponent. Although he has announced he will seek re-election, he has not yet filed. The filing deadline is December 11. 

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