Shortly after announcing his decision to quit the legislature, Speaker Joe Straus sparked speculation that he would unleash his $10 million campaign war chest to assist the campaigns of his friends and allies in the March primary. Campaign finance reports released today reveal that, so far, that threat has not come to fruition.
The Straus campaign spent over $1,000,000 during the latest reporting period, but none of it went to campaigns, either for the “responsible Republican” incumbents he said he would support, or challengers to conservative members. The dollars instead went to pay for an army of political consultants and PR flacks.
The Texas House Leadership Fund, a PAC controlled by Straus and his team, also failed to donate any of its money during the period to any candidates.
This is bad news for liberal incumbents like State Rep. Jason Villalba (R–Dallas). With only $60,392.12 in his campaign account, Villalba faces a tough reelection against a well-financed opponent. Villalba’s opponent Lisa Luby Ryan announced last week ahead of the deadline she had raised $270,000 in her primary campaign. Her report shows $213,016 cash on hand, more than three times the amount of her opponent.
It is certainly possible that Straus’s million-dollar stable of political consultants may have made a strategic decision to wait until after the end of the year to begin contributing to campaigns in order to conceal their strategy during the primary. However, if this pattern continues, then Straus will certainly not be the only member of the establishment leaving the legislature in March.

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