Democrats in Collin County are coming to the defense of Republican State Rep. Jeff Leach (Plano), as the Texas GOP urges him and other Republican lawmakers to support a ban on Democrat committee chairs in the Texas House.
Despite Republicans controlling state government, Democrats are still put into leadership positions in the Texas Legislature, including nearly 40 percent of House committees and one Senate committee.
As committee chairmen, these Democrats have the power to unilaterally kill legislation, including conservative priorities.
In light of this phenomenon, delegates to the Republican Party of Texas made a ban on Democrat committee chairs one of their eight legislative priorities, and the party has been amplifying its efforts to get lawmakers on the record ahead of the upcoming legislative session.
In a Twitter post, the Texas GOP asked Leach if he could be counted on to “fight for [his] constituents and ensure good Republican policy can pass in the Texas House” by supporting a ban on Democrat chairs.
Soon, an “unofficial” Twitter account for Democrats in Collin County defended Leach, asking the Texas GOP to leave him alone.
“Let him do his job as he sees fit! We all need to work together where we can,” they replied.
— Texas GOP (@TexasGOP) December 20, 2022
Soon, other Democrats came to Leach’s defense.
— Texas GOP (@TexasGOP) December 20, 2022
Leach told Texas Scorecard, despite the posts, he is “confident” he will be a target for Democrats:
“As always, I look forward to being on the front lines to ensure we have a resoundingly successful legislative session – building on the historic conservative victories we secured last session. And as always, because of my strong record of conservative leadership and achievement, I’m confident I will continue to be one of the top targets for Texas Democrats. And I wear that as a badge of honor. We’ve got important work to do to safeguard our children, protect taxpayers, secure our freedoms and liberties and strengthen the Texas miracle. And those important priorities are what I and my Republican colleagues must and will remain laser focused. The people of Texas – including our GOP voters – demand and deserve nothing less.”
Leach also noted that Democrats have spent more money against him than any other Republican House member in Texas history. Indeed, in 2020, Leach’s Democrat opponent Lorenzo Sanchez spent more than $1.6 million against Leach as his Collin County seat became competitive due to shifting suburban demographics.
After the district was redrawn to be less competitive, Leach outspent his Democrat opponent in 2022 over 10:1.
Leach refused to answer the question of whether he would vote to ban Democrats from holding committee chairmanships. His record, however, suggests he will not.
In 2021, Leach voted against a proposed rule amendment to ban the minority party from chairing committees. When State Rep. Briscoe Cain (R–Deer Park) gave a speech defending the practice and saying there were “a lot” of Democrats he would rather chair committees than Republicans, Leach made a motion to put the speech in writing in the House journal.
He did, however, place a statement in the journal that he meant to vote “yes” on another amendment that would have prevented Democrats from chairing a selection of certain committees.
Additionally, when the House Republican Caucus met earlier this month to endorse a candidate for speaker, Leach nominated current Speaker Dade Phelan, who has supported the practice of putting Democrats in leadership positions.
Collin County GOP Chairman Abraham George is urging Leach to support a complete ban.
“Republicans vote for Republican legislators because of our principles. There is no excuse for any Republican legislator to support Democrat committee chairs,” George told Texas Scorecard. “Hundreds of people from Collin County will be in Austin on January 12th to lobby against Democrat committee chairs. Jeff and other Republican legislators should support our priorities and platform.”
Leach is not the only Republican in the Collin County delegation feeling heat from the party’s grassroots on the issue. Though he refused to comment publicly, State Rep. Matt Shaheen (R–Frisco) is reportedly telling constituents that he does not support a ban on Democrat chairs, despite a recommendation by the Texas House Freedom Caucus telling Republican voters to support a ballot proposition on the issue earlier this year.
Meanwhile, 81 percent of Republican voters in Texas say they support a ban on Democrat chairs.
The Legislature will reconvene on January 10. A vote on the House rules is expected to take place within the first week.