(The Center Square) – Four candidates backed by the Texas Federation for Children PAC won their primary elections; two it opposed and one it supported are heading to a runoff. The TFC PAC invested nearly $200,000 in eight races statewide seeking to advance school choice options.
The four school choice state representatives that TFC PAC supported who won their races are Steve Toth in HD 15, Ryan Guillen in HD 31, Valoree Swanson in HD 150, and House Public Education Chairman Harold Dutton in HD 142.
Dutton, who was in a tight race, pulled through.
“As a champion for children, he has consistently fought to provide parents with better educational opportunities for their families,” Mandy Drogin, Texas State Director for the American Federation for Children, said.
In HD 91, incumbent five-term state Rep. Stephanie Klick, whom TFC PAC supported, is heading to a runoff after facing four primary challengers.
Her top challenger, David Lowe, argues she hasn’t supported the Republican Party of Texas platform. He argues, “This is the only race in the Texas legislature where a grassroots candidate is up against a sitting incumbent,” Lowe said. “I will not be intimidated by the establishment cronies rushing to rescue my 5-term opponent. The donor class is ruining Texas and sending the needs of ordinary Texans to the end of the line.”
Klick champions her “effective, conservative accomplishments,” including “defending the unborn, funding border security, expanding Second Amendment freedoms, protecting religious liberty,” among others.
But Texans for Fiscal Responsibility notes that she received an F grade for her voting record in the last legislative session on fiscal and budgetary matters in its Fiscal Responsibility Index.
Two anti-school choice incumbent Republican state representatives that TFC PAC opposes are heading to a runoff election.
In HD 12 and HD 60, incumbent Republican state Reps. Kyle Kacal and Glenn Rogers, respectively, are heading to a runoff after facing multiple challengers. They also received F grades for their voting records on fiscal issues, according to the Index.
Kacal says he represents “rural Texas values” and that the last legislative session “has been touted as one of the most conservative in Texas history.”
Rogers says he’s “worked hard to deliver results for all of our communities” and pledges “to deliver conservative results.”
Their challengers don’t mention school choice in their platforms. One supports lowering and eliminating property taxes and banning taxpayer lobbying.
Kacal’s top challenger, Ben Buis, says he “will always vote for more local control for our schools, and will fight to ensure our teachers have the support and resources they need to provide our kids with a quality education.”
He says he’ll work to lower property taxes, instead of moving to a consumption-based tax to eventually eliminate them, as some conservatives have proposed, and doesn’t pledge to ban taxpayer-funded lobbying.
Rogers’ top challenger, Mike Olcott, says he’s “committed to excellent schools for every Texas child. The most important factor in a good education is the quality of teachers that are employed by the school districts.”
He vows to “lower or eliminate property taxes, so homeowners can keep more of what they earn,” and to ban taxpayer-funded lobbying “because your hard-earned money should never be allowed to be used to lobby against bills that protect the taxpayer.”
On March 1, 88% of Republican primary voters expressed support for Proposition 9, which states, “Texas parents and guardians should have the right to select schools, whether public or private, for their children, and the funding should follow the student.”
The propositions “are non-binding and will not create law. Instead, they act as both an opinion poll and subsequent marching orders to show the Legislature which conservative priorities voters expect to be put into action,” Mayes Middleton, who as a state representative was chairman of the Texas Freedom Caucus, said in a guide explaining the propositions. Middleton won his state senate primary race in SD 11.
This was the third time in recent years that a school choice ballot proposition was strongly supported by Republican primary voters.
Support for Proposition 9, Drogin said, “reaffirming school choice as a key tenet of the Republican Party platform,” indicates that Texas voters “are demanding their representatives support education freedom. Unfortunately, there are still too many legislators who have not gotten the message.
“For too long, the largest Republican state in the country has looked on as states like Florida expanded school choice for their students,” Drogin said. “If the Lone Star State is to maintain its reputation as the beacon of individual liberty and economic growth, providing its future workforce with the best educational options must become a priority.”
The runoff election is scheduled for May 24. Whoever wins in House Districts 15, 31, 150 and 142, will face their Democratic challenger in November.
Those in House Districts 12, 60, and 91 don’t have Democratic challengers.