Dozen Conservatives and Converted RINO
Seek to Strip Democrats of Clout in House

Capitol Inside
April 8, 2024

Thirteen Republicans who are Texas House members or nominees banded on Monday behind a proposal that's designed to "advance the cause of liberty" with a set of reforms that would effectively disenfranchise millions of Democratic voters across the Lone Star State.

The Contract with Texas features signatures from a handful of incumbent representatives and eight Republican candidates who claimed nominations for House seats in the March 5 primary election. State Rep. Brian Harrison of Midlothian appears to be the ringleader of the ostensible reform effort based on the fact that his name crowns the list of candidates who signed the plan.

The baker's dozen includes a quartet of House Republicans who've been right-wing outcasts for the most part in State Reps. Nate Schatzline of Fort Worth, Tony Tinderholt of Arlington, Steve Toth of The Woodlands and Harrison. State Rep. J.M. Lozano of Kingsville also penned his name to the document as a former Democrat who's been one of the majority party's most liberal House members since switching to the GOP in 2012.

Lozano, the current Urban Affairs Committee chairman, has served as a standing panel chief under three Republican speakers who shared power with Democrats. But Lozano turned against current Speaker Dade Phelan last fall after voting to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton in the spring. Lozano appears to regard himself as a conservative now despite a voting record more in line with RINOs.

"As conservative Republican members and prospective members of the Texas House, we are committed to reforming it from a body of liberal dysfunction to a body that more faithfully serves Texas voters, and it is time for new leadership in the Texas House," the group vows.

The contract also contains signatures from eight Republicans who won nominations last month in bids for the Legislature's lower chamber - Janis Holt of Silsbee, Mitch Little of Lewisville, Shelley Luther of Sherman, Don McLaughlin of Uvalde, Brent Money of Greenville, Matt Morgan of Sugar Land, Mike Olcott of Aledo and Wes Virdell of Brady.

All of those will be heavily favored in the general election with the exception of McLaughlin, who may have a 50-50 chance of a victory this fall in a border district that had been a Democratic stronghold until now.

Little, who worked as a defense lawyer Paxton during the attempted impeachment in 2023, sought to take some of the credit for the Contract with Texas inception.

"I am pleased to be one of the initial drafters and signers of the Contract with Texas. I believe that’s what the voters of House District 65 expect of me," Little said on Monday in a post on X. "When I decided to run, I said, “REFORM STARTS NOW. Indeed, it has already begun. Please ask your rep to join us."

The reform plan seeks to neuter Democrats as much as possible without banning their ability to vote, to sponsor legislation or to participate in debate in committee and on the chamber floor.

The proposal's name rekindles visions of the Contract with America that Republicans hatched after seizing the majorities in the U.S. House and Senate for the first time in four decades in 1994 when Newt Gingrich was posed to be elected as the speaker for the session that following year. A major difference between the contracts with Texas in 2024 and the nation is the fact that all but two of 230 U.S. House Republicans signed the pact 30 years ago for a 99 percent rate.

With 86 state House seats here now, the Contract with Texas only has 15 percent of the majority party's current and future members on board.

more to come ...







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