Image: Endorsement advertisement by the left-leaning, Joe Straus-affiliated Associated Republicans of Texas, for State Representative candidate Jackie Waters’ struggling candidacy.
The Woodlands, February 11 – A left-leaning, Joe Straus-affiliated political action committee has intruded into the State Representative, District 15, race in the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election to help the struggling Jackie Waters who never seemed to find her footing in the campaign to defeat conservative leader Steve Toth. Associated Republicans of Texas (ART), with its strong financial and philosophical ties to the outgoing liberal Texas House Speaker Joe Straus (allegedly R-San Antonio) has pumped substantial funds into the largely unknown Waters’ campaign to try to hold hard-charging conservative Toth at bay.
During the past 72 hours, ART placed door hangers endorsing Waters on the homes of many Republican voters who have made it a habit to vote in Republican primaries. Despite Waters’ unwillingness to sign a pledge not to support the use of government funds for tollroads without voter approval, her reluctance to debate Toth on issues of vital importance to District voters, and her failure to get behind a conservative platform of policy proposals, ART endorsed Waters in an effort to keep Toth out of the Texas House.
Both major Tea Party organizations in Montgomery County – the Texas Patriots PAC and the Montgomery County Tea Party – have endorsed Toth. Numerous other conservative groups and community groups, including Empower Texans, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, Texas Right to Life (the largest and oldest Pro-Life organization in Texas), and The Woodlands Firefighters Association have also endorsed Toth in the Republican Primary. Five members of the Woodlands Township Board of Directors (Gordy Bunch, John McMullan, Bruce Rieser, Brian Boniface, and John Brown) have endorsed Toth, as have former Montgomery County Judge Alan B. Sadler and Precinct 4 Constable Kenneth “Rowdy” Hayden.
The District 15 seat has become an open seat with the decision of solidly conservative Mark Keough, Republican of The Woodlands and one of the fifteen most conservative members of the Texas House of Representatives, to run for Montgomery County Judge to clean up the overspending, enormous property tax collections, and downright corruption of the Montgomery County government. Keough and Toth have endorsed each other, which makes a lot of sense since both of them are conservative reformers.
The State Republican Executive Committee censured Straus on January 28, 2018, the first time in the history of the Republican Party of Texas that such censure occurred. The SREC censured Straus on a 44 to 21 vote as a result of Straus’ opposition to statewide property tax reform, Pro-Life legislation, government spending reform, and other proposals consistent with the Republican Party Platform.
Straus has announced that he’s not running for re-election. Therefore, the House Republican Caucus will select his successor as Speaker with at least two Straus allies running to replace him against conservative candidates for the job. As a result, the State Representative District 15 vote has become even more critical to the future of conservative reforms in the Texas House of Representatives.
ART has very close ties to Straus who has led the fundraising efforts by the left-leaning group. Straus himself gave $200,000 to ART in 2016. ART in turn has donated several hundred thousand dollars to the political campaigns of pro-abortion Republican Representative Sarah Davis of Houston, who faces a stiff challenge in the March Republican Primary Election. ART also works closely with liberty consulting organizations such as Murphy Nasica and Glass House Strategies.
With the Texas House Speakership on the line, the Austin-based ART has taken a great interest in who represents The Woodlands area during the 86th Legislature in 2019. ART hopes that Jackie Waters will provide liberals with an additional vote.