There’s no denying the emotional and physical exhaustion that comes with running a campaign, especially one with seven candidates and twenty-one counties. However, Susan King (R-Abilene), who suspended her campaign for Senate District 24 due to mental health struggles, surprised Texans by announcing on December 14th — the filing deadline for the 2016 primary – that she is throwing her hat in the ring once again.
It was just November when King made the decision to suspend her campaign in order to receive inpatient treatment for chronic depression; an illness she admits suffering from for quite some time. Her openness about her struggles with depression may be admirable, but the timeline of events raise the question whether the decision to reenter a highly competitive senate race was entirely hers, and, frankly, all signs point to Austin.
With a far-from-conservative voting record and a strong alliance with liberal House Speaker Joe Straus, King is presumably the establishment’s choice pick to fill the senate seat being vacated by Troy Fraser. Just last session, King received an “F” on the Fiscal Responsibility Index, a 52 on Young Conservatives of Texas’s Ratings, and, according to Rice University’s Lib-Con Index, votes more in line with House Democrats than Republicans. In addition, she has a history of close ties to lobbying groups, such as the Texas Medical Association.
So, despite the fact that six other candidates have been campaigning for the central Texas senate seat for months now, and that King has clearly been facing a difficult time in her life, her re-entrance to the race appears to be a Hail Mary from the Austin Establishment.
SD 24 is ripe for a conservative voice in the state’s upper chamber, which is certainly a threat to the liberal establishment; a group that has been dwindling in numbers and strength over the past several election cycles. There’s little doubt entrenched Austin interests are taking advantage of a wide-open senate race to run a close ally in an attempt to prevent another conservative voice in the Texas Senate. Sadly, it appears they’re willing to do so at any human cost.