The most liberal Republican in the Texas House doesn’t represent a Democrat-run major city. The ranking isn’t bestowed upon a legislator from Houston or Dallas or Austin.

Instead, the distinction goes to a rural lawmaker: State Rep. Kyle Kacal (Bryan) is Texas’ most liberal Republican, based on legislative rankings.

First elected to the Texas House in 2012, Kacal sits in a district composed of a swath of Central Texas counties between Waco and Bryan. Redistricting last year has moved much of that district east, to six counties surrounding College Station.

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

After the most recent legislative session, Kacal earned a dismal score of 27 on the Texans for Fiscal Responsibility Index, giving him the lowest rating of any Republican in the chamber. Likewise, Kacal was ranked at the bottom of Republicans in the Young Conservatives of Texas’ legislative ratings.

Kacal 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, Kacal 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, Kacal 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.”

Kacal was also one of a handful of Republicans who voted with Democrats to reject a proposal to ban mask mandates by state and local governments. He has also been silent on calls for a fourth special session to address vaccine mandates.

And when Democrats fled for Washington, D.C., to break quorum last year, Kacal immediately called for compromise and surrender to the Democrats.

“The Democrats told us that they would walk out if they weren’t happy, and apparently, they’re not happy,” said Kacal, at the time.

“They are walking out, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to return. We need to have some communication and come up with a moderated deal that brings everybody to the table and makes sure they have a victory or two.”

Kacal is being challenged in the Republican primary by Ben Bius and Joshua Hamm, who have both campaigned on Kacal’s lack of conservative credentials. 

Early voting in the Republican primary election begins on February 14. 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