With just one week left until the primary runoff elections, the establishment is lining up in an attempt to save incumbent lawmakers from losing re-election.
After failing to receive more than 50 percent of the vote in the March primary election, four Republican members of the Texas House of Representatives are in the political fights of their lives as they face head-to-head opposition from conservative challengers.
In House District 91, State Rep. Stephanie Klick (R–Fort Worth) faces opposition from David Lowe.
Klick is the chairman of the House Public Health Committee, to which legislation to ban child gender modification was referred. As chairman, Klick decided not to give a public hearing to one of the Senate versions of the legislation and slow-walked the House version to the committee coordinator in an effort to stall its consideration before key deadlines in the House of Representatives.
Ultimately, the effort was killed, leading the conservative grassroots to become frustrated with Klick.
The latest campaign finance reports released today reveal Klick with $955,271 in contributions from February 20 to May 14. Her largest contributions include in-kind donations from Speaker Dade Phelan, as well many of her colleagues in the House. The newly created Texans for Responsible Government political action committee, funded by Abbott mega-donor Michael Porter, is also shown donating $25,000 during the period.
Similarly in House District 60, State Rep. Glenn Rogers (R–Mineral Wells) reports raising $750,939. Much of that money comes from the Austin lobby, with the Texas Realtors PAC donating $30,0000 directly to his campaign, in addition to tens of thousands of dollars of in-kind activity.
Rogers was also a recipient of $25,000 from Charles Butt, the heir to the H-E-B supermarket chain. For years, the billionaire has bankrolled efforts against conservatives in the Republican primary and has funded Democrats in general elections, largely under the guise of being pro-public education.
Additionally, Rogers’ report shows nearly $200,000 in donations and campaign activity from Speaker Dade Phelan.
Rogers faces Mike Olcott in the runoff election.
In House District 12, State Rep. Kyle Kacal (R–Bryan) reported a haul of $462,632. His report is largely comprised of a series of lobby group PACs and union contributions. Kacal received money from the Texas Medical Association, which has opposed pro-life efforts in Texas as well as attempts to ban vaccine mandates.
Speaker Dade Phelan provided $32,500 in polling.
Kacal—the most liberal Republican in the Texas House—is facing opposition from Ben Bius.
In House District 85, State Rep. Phil Stephenson (R–Wharton) appears to be an exception, with his report only showing $53,800 in contributions during the period in his runoff challenge against Stan Kitzman.
Though the House Republican Caucus donated $10,000 to Stephenson’s campaign, Speaker Dade Phelan has stayed out.
Runoff elections have historically been perilous territory for incumbent lawmakers in Texas, with few exceptions. With four incumbents in runoff elections this cycle, the Austin establishment is working overtime in an effort to protect them.
Early voting continues through Friday, with Election Day on Tuesday, May 24.