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First Look at the Texas GOP’s Legislature Scorecard

Back in May, the Republican Party of Texas announced that it would be issuing a “scorecard” to rate how the legislature had achieved the top conservative priorities. We’ve finally got our first look at what that means, and frankly, it’s more confusing than anything else.

The top priorities defined by the RPT included election integrity (voting rights restrictions), religious freedom (the ability of private businesses to discriminate based on religion), children and gender modification (medical support for trans and non-binary children), abolition of abortion, constitutional carry (of firearms), monument protection (mostly Confederate monuments), school choice for all (magnet and charter schools), and the banning of taxpayer-funded lobbying. The assessment looked at the number of bills signed onto by each member of the legislature but failed to provide any simple rankings based on their performance. Nonetheless, the report could be a handy guide for potential primary opponents who want to paint incumbents as insufficiently conservative enough.

That last bit has some Republicans upset because it could be viewed as the state party technically spending money to affect the upcoming primaries, which is against the rules. The assessment went live only briefly before being taken back down again, possibly in response to those sentiments. However, a version of the initial report is still online.

For an example of how this goes, let’s look at one of the biggest names in conservativism for the 87th Legislative Session, State Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park). Cain has made multiple national headlines, including traveling to Pennsylvania to help the actions of former President Donald Trump to overturn the election. He was also summarily humiliated on television when it was revealed that his language in the voting rights restriction bill mirrored that of previous laws designed to limit the votes of Black Texans. 

Nonetheless, Cain is lauded in the report. He was an early signer of the majority of bills under the RPT’s priority list, failing only to make significant progress in the abolition of abortion and school choice. The report notes that he voted for all fifteen of the priority bills that actually made it to the floor. He joint-authored six bills under the priority umbrella. If the scorecard actually handed out letter grades, Cain appears to be an A-minus. 

Another prominent name that did well in the assessment was State Sen. Angela Paxton (R-Allen). The wife of the attorney general acquitted herself well on conservative priorities this session. She joint-authored some of the most extreme bills in the Senate, including defining gender transition therapy as child abuse and the “heartbeat bill” that criminalized abortion after six weeks. She, too, voted for every priority bill that came to the senate floor.

The RPT didn’t just rate the Republicans, though. The Democrats remained mostly united against the conservative priority list of actions. However, there are a few quirks worth mentioning. State Rep. Harold Dutton Jr. (D-Houston) has a pretty standard scorecard for a Democrat when it comes to bills authored or supported, but he did also vote for five of the fifteen priority bills when they came before the full House. Curiously, Dutton’s late support for the bill banning trans athletes from competing in schools is not factored in despite that being part of the criteria. It’s possible that the assessment simply doesn’t have a mechanism for adding late flip-flops after the initial voting in committee takes place. 

Overall, there are few surprises in this initial look at the scorecard. It’s clearly a conservative litmus test that will likely be used as a bludgeon against Republicans who veered from the extreme desires of the RPT. The final form is unlikely to be significantly different.

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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