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Rural Republicans Strike Back Against Out-Of-State School Voucher PAC

Incumbent rural Republicans facing challengers funded by an out-of-state billionaire school voucher zealot are fighting back with attack ads ahead of the primary run-offs.

Last year, Governor Greg Abbott made passing school vouchers a priority. His plan would have allowed parents to use taxpayer money to send their children to private, mostly Christian schools, which are usually located in wealthy urban or suburban areas. It would have been a massive funneling of property taxes into the hands of religious organizations that are exempt from many of the anti-discrimination policies Texas public schools must follow, which earned it the ire of Texas Democrats.

They were joined by rural Republicans, who saw vouchers as a threat to their local public schools. Each student that left a public school for a private one would cost already-struggling campuses to lose over $6,000. Abbott’s plan failed in the legislature, and the governor swore revenge against his own party members.

That revenge has come in the form of enormous fundraising for primary challengers funded by Pennsylvania  billionaire Jeff Yass. Yass, who was recently revealed in court documents to be one of the early investors in TikTok, is a hardline school voucher advocate whose large donations nationwide have furthered the cause of crippling public education. He and Abbott are supporting several hopeful challengers who will face incumbents in the May 28 run-off.

It appears those incumbents have had enough. In a paid online ad, Texas Rep. Justin Holland (R-Rockwall) painted his challenger, Katrina Pierson, as a puppet of the Chinese Communist Party because of her association with Yass.

“Why is a TikTok billionaire funding Katrina Pierson’s attack campaign?” it states. “The app, used by the Chinese Communist Party to steal information from millions of users and indoctrinate children to adopt anti-American values, is currently banned from state employees to ensure national security.”

John Kuempel (R-Seguin), ran an almost identical ad attacking his challenger, Alan Schoolcraft, though his ad tried to paint Schoolcraft as a liberal for his support from Yass.

The Chinese government only owns 1 percent of TikTok, but the company is legally required to participate in intelligence gathering initiatives if Beijing instructs them to. This has led to many lawmakers worrying that the popular social media app could be used to spy on Americans or spread propaganda for the Chinese Communist Party.

The attack ads are likely to hit hard. Yass is currently under scrutiny as Capitol Hill debates breaking up the company as a matter of national security. The ensuring legal battles have fully revealed just how deep Yass’s participation in TikTok runs, and ties him directly to possible threats from a hostile leftist government.

Highlighting the fact that the school voucher push is funded so heavily by people far away from the local high schools of rural Texas is likely to play well with voters, who by and large have supported their representatives for standing up against vouchers. Painting the challengers are pawns of a Yankee billionaire city slicker and his Chinese business associates is definitely taking the gloves off for the election next month.

Jef Rouner
Jef Rouner
Jef Rouner is an award-winning freelance journalist, the author of The Rook Circle, and a member of The Black Math Experiment. He lives in Houston where he spends most of his time investigating corruption and strange happenings. Jef has written for Houston Press, Free Press Houston, and Houston Chronicle.

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