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Abbott-Backed School Choice Advocates Dominate GOP Runoffs

House of Representatives Chamber in Texas State Capitol | Image by amadeustx/Shutterstock
House of Representatives Chamber in Texas State Capitol | Image by amadeustx/Shutterstock

Several Republican incumbents were defeated in Tuesday’s primary runoffs, most of whom were anti-school choice.

Six of the eight Texas House members were forced out of office during the Republican Party runoff, making 15 total GOP incumbents ousted when added to the March primary results.

“We targeted 13 Texas House Republicans who voted against school choice — 9 of them lost. We defeated 69% of the incumbents we challenged — Incumbents usually win 95% of the time — Political earthquake,” Corey A. DeAngelis, self-identified “school choice evangelist,” posted on X.

A few of the anti-voucher incumbents unseated on May 28 include Texas GOP Reps. Justin Holland (Rockwall), John Kuempel (Seguin), and DeWayne Burns (Cleburne), per data reported by Texas Tribune.

“While we did not win every race we fought in, the overall message from this year’s primaries is clear: Texans want school choice,” Abbott said, reported the Texas Tribune.

However, despite the push against anti-voucher members or those who voted for impeaching Paxton, House Speaker Dade Phelan managed to hold on and was re-elected in the primary runoff.

“Thank you, House District 21, for your confidence in me—I am honored to be your advocate and look forward to earning your vote once again in November,” Phelan stated in a news release, per Beaumont Enterprise.

Phelan’s opponent, David Covey, also responded to the results.

“Dade Phelan may have won this election, but in doing so, he has irrevocably destroyed his already feeble legacy,” Covey said.

Tarrant County Republican Chairman Bo French mentioned that the results showed the state is becoming more right-leaning and that siding with Phelan can be costly.

“The results of the primary election are clear, with conservatives winning most of the races. The legislature should finally be controlled by Republicans instead of the Democratic coalition we have had in the past. Even though the Speaker narrowly won, spending $10 million and getting thousands of Democrats to support him, the message is clear that siding with him is a death sentence for incumbents. Republicans across the state can rejoice that we will finally start getting our priorities passed,” French told DX.

With more incumbents defeated in the GOP runoffs, Abbott said the House “now has enough votes to pass school choice,” per the Texas Tribune.

Not everyone celebrated the victories of pro-school-choice candidates in the primaries.

“Vouchers are now the litmus test of a fringe party—we’ve just seen a far-Right push play out in real time. [Former Education Secretary Betsy] DeVos, [Jeff] Yass and other billionaires funding run-offs to anti-voucher Republicans is not a sign of broad, coalition-backed appeal. It’s an ideological purge,” anti-school-choice professor and author Josh Cowen posted on X.

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