Jan 10, 2024 - News

Texas' Greg Abbott goes after fellow Republicans

Photo illustration of Texas Governor Greg Abbott with lines radiating from him.

Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: Bill Clark/Getty Images

Aiming for political payback, Gov. Greg Abbott's campaign announced Wednesday he will spend big this primary season to undercut fellow GOPers who defied him on school voucher legislation last year.

Driving the news: Abbott's campaign raised $19 million between July and December and intends to use it against the largely rural Republicans who opposed him on the issue, the campaign said Wednesday.

  • Already, Abbott has endorsed seven primary opponents of incumbent House Republicans, per the Texas Tribune.
  • None of the targeted Republicans are in the Austin area, but they include Rep. Steve Allison, who represents a moderate north San Antonio district, and Rep. Hugh Shine of Temple.

What they're saying: "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," Texans for Greg Abbott campaign manager Kim Snyder said in a statement Wednesday.

The other side: During a debate in November, Drew Darby, a San Angelo Republican who is among those being targeted by Abbott, pointed to state estimates that the cost of a voucher program would quickly grow to about $2 billion annually by the next budget cycle.

  • "Is this the conservative thing to do, to create another entitlement program, in effect to create a third education system?" Darby said, referring to school districts, charter schools and state-funded private schools, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Catch up quick: Abbott's push to divert some taxpayer money to families for private education and homeschooling failed twice last year in two special sessions devoted to the matter.

  • Supporters say these programs would provide more options for families who want learning environments that better align with their values — which often means religious schools.
  • Opponents say voucher programs or education savings accounts reduce public school enrollment and funding and could lead to lower-quality education.

The intrigue: Twenty-one Republicans joined all Democrats in November to strip school vouchers from the Legislature's chief education funding bill, dooming the measure

  • In many of those Republicans' rural districts, public schools are the chief employer, and office-holders risked local political blowback if they backed Abbott's vouchers legislation.
  • Some of the 21 members, like Four Price of Amarillo and Andrew Murr of Junction, are not running for re-election.

What's next: Primary day is March 5.

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