The 2016 Primary Election was intense. At the end of the day conservatives made significant progress toward reform of the Texas House and judiciary. Several key legislators were hired and fired on Tuesday, March 1. Others were sent the clear message that they will be challenged if they neglect the principles on which they were elected.
Early in the campaign season, THSC identified key legislators who needed to be replaced by true conservative candidates who protected parental rights and home schooling. These were incumbents who might have talked a good talk, but when push came to shove, they did not follow through with support of parents and the home school community. We also identified the leaders who stood strong for home schooling and parental rights and who Texans needed to keep in Austin.
This Primary Election proved once and for all that the establishment and House Leadership are in full defense mode. The Austin establishment attacked six conservative incumbents, while conservatives and home schoolers launched challenges to the establishment in more than a dozen races. Grass roots are proving their threat to false conservatism, and the establishment is “shaking in its boots.”
Reports estimate that conservative candidates and conservative advocacy groups in the state, including THSC, spent a little over $4 million in campaign expenses, while the establishment outspent conservatives with a total of $12 million in campaign expenses.
Spending more money clearly does not always translate to more votes when the electorate is sick and tired of a legislator’s record and rhetoric on parental rights and other important issues. In this primary election, twice as many Texans showed up than 2014 to voice their opinions against the status quo, pushing back against the establishment and crony conservatives.
Key Primary Election Victories
House District 150: Valoree Swanson, a home school mom and a strong believer in home schooling and parental rights, successfully unseated Rep. Debbie Riddle. Representative Riddle effectively killed one of THSC’s primary parental rights initiatives in the 84th Legislative Session that would have protected single parents and their children from lawsuit abuse.
House District 20: Terry Wilson beat Rep. Marsha Farney. Representative Farney campaigned as a conservative in 2012, but broke significantly from conservatives with her voting record and by ardently defending Speaker Joe Straus, whose political regime has been responsible for stalling significant parental rights reforms in the Texas House.
House District 60: Mike Lang won in an open seat race, adding a strong conservative to the fight for Texas families. THSC endorsed Mike months ago, recognizing him to be an excellent representative for families and home schoolers.
House District 130: Another reinforcement to freedom, Dr. Tom Oliverson was elected in an open seat race near Houston. Dr. Oliverson is a strong Christian conservative and a home school dad who will be an influential advocate for parental rights and home school rights.
Texas Supreme Court
Justice Eva Guzman won in her bid for reelection to the Supreme Court of Texas, Place 9. Justice Guzman has properly interpreted and strongly defended the constitutions of the United States of America and the sovereign state of Texas. THSC believes she will continue to be a fair and impartial Justice who will not legislate from the bench.
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
Brent Webster and Ray Wheless, both strong defenders of parental rights and the properly limited role of government in families’ lives, advanced to the runoff election and will be on the ballot again on the May 24th Runoff election.
Victories for Conservative Legislators
THSC continued support of a list of key legislators in Austin in order to protect parental and home school rights. Of course, the Austin establishment tried unsuccessfully to unseat each of them. Fighting back, THSC spent significant time and effort defending these champions of parental rights, and each of these conservative incumbents won their reelection bid despite heavy targeting by the liberal House leadership.
THSC Endorsed Incumbent Victories:
- Jonathan Stickland – House District 92
- Tony Tinderholt – House District 94
- Bill Zedler – House District 96
- Matt Rinaldi – House District 115
Candidates Still in the Fight
In addition to many wins, THSC saw many of its endorsed candidates advance to runoff elections after Tuesday’s Primary Election.
Parental rights champions advancing to the runoff election:
- Bryan Hughes – Senate District 1
- Cole Hefner – House District 5
- Keith Strahan – House District 18
- John Keating – House District 33
- Kyle Biedermann – House District 73
- Briscoe Cain – House District 128
- Ray Wheless – Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 2
- Brent Webster – Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 5
You Win Some, You Lose Some
As is typical of any election, there are several losses that inevitably come along with victories. The 2016 Primary Election was no exception. Despite the efforts of THSC and thousands and thousands of dedicated grass roots volunteers and supporters, there were several strong defenders of parental rights and home schooling who did not get elected in the Primary.
Each of these candidates worked tirelessly to defeat the incumbents but lost by slim margins in many of the races, with Thomas McNutt losing by a mere 200 votes out of more than 28,000. McNutt’s race will have a vote recount within the next few weeks because of the close margin.
Some Offensive Losses:
- Thomas McNutt lost to incumbent Byron Cook in HD 8.
- Jess Fields lost to incumbent John Raney in HD 14.
- Jonathan Boos lost to incumbent Cindy Burkett HD 113.
- Jeff Judson lost to incumbent Joe Straus in HD 121.
- Michael Massengale lost to incumbent Debra Lehrman for Texas Supreme Court.
- Rick Green lost to incumbent Paul Green for Texas Supreme Court.
Additionally, Rep. Stuart Spitzer lost his reelection in House District 4 to previous state Rep. Lance Gooden.
Home school mom Molly White came in behind by just 118 votes in her reelection bid in HD 55, which will have a recount taken because of the close margin.
So how did home schoolers fair overall?
THSC invested significant time and effort into this primary cycle in an attempt to change the culture and leadership in Austin that has been strangling parental rights reforms in the Texas Legislature (see also How to Stop a False Conservative and Why a Conservative State Can’t Get More Conservative Laws Passed).
This primary, conservatives and home schoolers launched unprecedented statewide offensives against the Austin establishment in well over a dozen races and forced the establishment, who could only muster a challenge to six conservative parental rights champions, into full-on defense mode.
Despite being outspent more than three to one across the state, home schoolers and conservatives scored several key victories outright and forced other liberal incumbents into a runoff election where we will continue to fight for Texas families.
The 2016 Primary meant many victories for THSC-endorsed candidates and home schoolers. THSC will continue to wholeheartedly support those candidates entering runoff elections. To keep informed, sign up for email notifications on legislative, advocacy, and political activity.
Don’t forget to vote (and bring friends) in the run-off elections coming up on May 24 so Texas families can gain more wins and therefore, Keep Texas Families Free.