Establishment and liberal Republican lawmakers across the state are lining up to support one of their own as he seeks to parlay his failing record and loss of his state office to a Democrat into a Congressional career.
When Congressman Jeb Hensarling (R-Dallas) announced that he did not intend to seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives, the field to replace him became quickly crowded. In total, eight Republican candidates have filed to run for Texas’ Fifth Congressional District, which consists of portions of Southeast Dallas County and then cuts southeast through East Texas.
The field includes GOP fundraiser Bunni Pounds, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz-backed Jason Wright, current State Rep. Lance Gooden of Athens and former State Rep. Ken Sheets of Garland who lost his seat in 2016 to drunk-driving Democrat Victoria Neave.
Voters weighing the options and considering all the candidates may have just had their work made a little bit easier. On Tuesday, Sheets announced the “incredible” endorsement of forty current and former members of the Texas Legislature.
In his press release, Sheets claims that the endorsements are, “a testament to his commitment and success in delivering conservative solutions for the people and state of Texas.” But what do the endorsements truly say about Sheets’ definition of “conservative”?
Sheets begins by touting the endorsement of disgraced former State Sen. Bob Deuell (R-Greenville), who faced legal action after he attempted to have radio ads by Texas Right to Life pulled off of Dallas radio stations. Deuell lost re-election in 2014 when he was defeated by Bob Hall of Edgewood who has since had one of the most conservative records in the Texas Legislature.
Readers recall Branch exited the legislature for a failed run for Attorney General against Ken Paxton. Farney lost re-election in 2016 after voters held her accountable for her liberal record, and Keffer- facing an almost-certain loss to then-challenger Mike Lang, decided to quit the legislature and go serve on the board of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a liberal, George Soros-funded think-tank based out of Austin.
Among the current representatives Sheets’ touts as endorsements of his “conservative” credentials are State Reps. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana), best known for killing major conservative legislation in his State Affairs committee, Wayne Faircloth (R-Dickinson), and John Zerwas (R-Richmond), who is currently attempting to succeed House Speaker Joe Straus as Democrats’ choice for Speaker in 2019.
These establishment endorsements should come as no surprise to those that have followed Ken Sheets’ time in office. After coming into office in 2011 as a “Taxpayer Champion,” Sheets’ performance declined each session and he began to cozy up to liberal house leadership, earning an “F” on the Fiscal Responsibility Index during his last session in 2015.