Gov. Greg Abbott endorses reelection bids of 58 House members who voted for school vouchers

3 months 1 week 5 hours ago Saturday, November 25 2023 Nov 25, 2023 November 25, 2023 6:19 PM November 25, 2023 in News - Local
Source: https://www.texastribune.org/
Gov. Abbott speaks to parents during an event hosted by the Parent Empowerment Coalition at Covenant Christian Academy in McAllen on April 12, 2023. Credit: Michael Gonzales for The Texas Tribune

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Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday endorsed 58 Texas House Republicans running for reelection, all of whom sided with him on a key vote days earlier in his yearlong push for school vouchers.

The endorsement list appears to be Abbott’s first move to make good on his threats to oppose House Republicans who blocked his agenda on the issue.

“Each of these House Republicans are proven fighters, and I am proud to endorse every one of these strong conservatives who are seeking reelection,” Abbott said in a statement. “I encourage Texans to join me in supporting them for re-election so we can pass school choice for all Texas families and continue to build a safer, brighter, and more prosperous Texas of tomorrow."

The endorsements come three days after the House voted to remove a voucher-like program from a wide-ranging education package. It was the most resounding rebuke yet of Abbott’s crusade for “school choice” that has now prompted four special sessions.

Twenty-one Republicans joined Democrats to pass an amendment eliminating the voucher-like program, which would give parents $10,500 annually in taxpayer dollars to cover private school costs.

Those 21 Republicans were conspicuously absent from Abbott’s endorsements. He also omitted members of the 21 in a part of his statement honoring retiring House Republicans for their service.

The list did not include House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, who has multiple primary challengers but did not vote on the amendment. The speaker rarely casts votes.

The passage of the amendment doomed the bill’s chances of getting Abbott’s signature, and it was sent back to committee before the full House could vote on it. There is still time remaining in the current special session and Abbott has not said whether he will call another one, but Abbott appears to be moving on to campaign season.

In a statement Friday night on the amendment vote, Abbott criticized “the small minority of pro-union Republicans who voted with Democrats.”

Abbott’s endorsements come as candidate filing is underway for the March primary. It started Nov. 11 and ends Dec. 11.

Abbott has long dangled the prospect of political retribution against House Republicans who stand in the way of his crusade for school vouchers. In September, ahead of the third special session, Abbott suggested he would call two more special sessions and if the proposal still did not reach his desk, he would turn it into an issue for the primaries.

“There’s an easy way to get it done, and there’s a hard way,” Abbott said at the time.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2023/11/20/greg-abbott-vouchers-endorsements/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

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