Governor Greg Abbott has never been above using cheap tactics to push his agenda, but it was recently reported that now he is outright lying to constituents.
“To say that those who voted against vouchers are frustrated by this would be an understatement. To say the attacks are dishonest almost feels gratuitous,” Scott Braddock, editor of Quorum Report, reported.
The attacks come in the form of mail pieces, TV Ads, and block walkers who have started showing up in places like Rockwall, San Antonio, Abilene, Texarkana, Temple, Liberty County, and Mineral Wells.
Abbott is targeting rural incumbent GOP state representatives who in November voted against his push for a school voucher-like plan known as education savings accounts, or ESAs.
That bill would have boosted public education with one-time funding of $6 billion. But 21 House Republicans sided with Democrats to strip the “school choice” provision from the bill.
That’s how it went down. But, according to the Quorum Report, voters are being told another version of the facts.
In The Big Country, Rep. Stan Lambert faces criticism in mailers from the AFC Victory Fund. The group alleges that Lambert not only opposed ‘a parent’s choice’ but also voted against funding exceeding $65 million for local schools and resisted supporting $4,000 pay raises for teachers.
While incumbents aren’t allocating substantial campaign resources to counter these attacks, candidates and their campaign teams are dedicating time to personally elucidate to voters the details surrounding the voucher bill and the real proceedings on the House floor.
Meanwhile, Gov. Abbott intends to use over $19 million to further advance his voucher agenda. According to his campaign, the Governor has enough resources to “back strong conservative candidates who support his bold agenda to keep Texas the greatest state in the nation, including expanding school choice for all Texas families and students.”
While money is influential in deterring potential challengers, it may not necessarily lead to the defeat of Republican incumbents, especially those recently re-elected in districts designed to favor them. Bob Stein, a political science professor at Rice University, emphasizes, “The governor has already solidified safe districts for Republicans, particularly incumbent ones.”
In 2020, rather than create more Republican congressional districts, Abbott and the Texas legislature chose to bolster incumbents with even safer districts; there are far fewer toss-up or competitive districts in the new map.
The effects of this redistricting were evident in the subsequent election, where Republicans not only secured the majority but did so convincingly, winning 86 out of the 150 seats.
Abbott faces a challenge as the Republican primary voters typically consist of those who have previously supported incumbent Republican candidates, “and no one single issue is likely to move them or defeat them,” Stein tells RA News. “This has been tried before with very little success.” Especially when looking at those congressional districts’ public and electorate’s opinion on school vouchers.
Rural Republicans have a long history of being against vouchers and are not intimidated by Abbott’s threats. In a recent op-ed in The Eagle, Rep. John Raney -the author of the amendment that stripped vouchers from the bill back in November- blasted the Governor over his voucher mayhem: “Shame on you, Gov. Abbott”
“President Ronald Reagan said, ‘The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally — not a 20 percent traitor,‘ perhaps Gov. Abbott should take a page out of President Reagan’s book, instead, he is endorsing and reportedly helping to fund primary opponents running against the members of his own party who could not, in good conscience, vote for his voucher plan,” Rep. Raney wrote.