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Rural Resistance Threatens To Derail Abbott’s Voucher Agenda… Again

According to the latest campaign finance reports, only two of the sixteen Republican incumbents who voted against school vouchers have been outpaced on fundraising by their challengers.

Rep. Stan Lambert and Rep. Travis Clardy were outraised by their same-party challengers Liz Case Pickens and Joanne Shofner, both backed by Gov. Greg Abbott as part of his promise to take the voucher fight to primaries.

“With the primary elections just around the corner, Governor Abbott has the resources needed 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,” Abbott’s campaign manager Kim Snyder said in a statement last month.

In recent reports, Abbott’s campaign announced he raised over $19 million for his two political accounts in the last six months of 2023, with upwards of $38 million in cash on hand.

However, the odds seem to remain in favor of rural Republicans since only two out of sixteen are feeling the heat.

According to Bob Stein, a political science professor at Rice University, Abbott faces a challenge as 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,” he added.

“This has been tried before with very little success,” Stein said, especially when looking at those congressional districts’ public and electorate’s opinion on school vouchers.

Rural communities have a historical resistance to vouchers, as public schools are the lifeblood of these areas, and defunding them could have a profound impact. Keith Bryant, Superintendent of Schools in Lubbock-Cooper ISD, illustrates the effect of a voucher program in rural communities best:

“They are unifiers, gathering places, and information providers. Many times they are the largest employers in their communities, and school events are often the largest draw of visitors to their towns. Disruptions to funding for rural schools are disruptions to the fabric of life in rural communities.”

Abbott didn’t just wage a political battle against 16 rural Republicans, he also directly challenged and confronted 16 rural communities.

The primary election date is March 5.  

Jovanka Palacios
Jovanka Palacios
Jovanka Palacios, a Mexican-American Politics Reporter and Managing Editor at RA's Gun Violence Watch, unveils the Capitol's inner workings. Focused on Public Education and Gun Policies, she passionately advocates for informed dialogue, delivering concise, impactful insights into the intricate political landscape.


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