Abbott endorses Republican Sarah Davis’ challenger


Highlights

Davis represents a swing district.

Hillary Clinton won the district during the 2016 presidential election by 15 points.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday endorsed a Republican Texas House member’s primary challenger in a swing district that voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Abbott said in an email that he supports Susanna Dokupil, a former assistant solicitor general who is challenging state Rep. Sarah Davis, R-West University Place. Davis, considered the most moderate House Republican, has represented the district since 2011.

“Susanna worked alongside me to defend Texas values when I was the attorney general,” Abbott said in a taped message sent with the email. “I trust Susanna, and I know that voters in House District 134 can trust her too to fight for their needs in Austin, Texas. She is a principled conservative who will be a true champion for the people of House District 134 in Houston.”

In a district that includes Rice University and the wealthy River Oaks neighborhood and where Clinton outperformed Donald Trump by 15.4 points in the presidential election, it’s unclear whether a more conservative Republican can win the seat. Davis won the 2016 election with about 54 percent of the vote in part by appealing to Democrats and outlining where she and they agree.

READ: Cornyn rescinds Roy Moore endorsement

“I have always voted my uniquely independent district, and when it comes to campaign season I have always stood on my own, which is why I outperformed Republicans up and down the ballot in the last midterm election,” Davis said in a statement after Abbott’s announcement. “Republican voters in HD 134 will not be told for whom to vote, and will not nominate a candidate who will be so easily defeated in the fall because they are a wholly-owned subsidiary of the extremist fringe group Empower Texans.”

Abbott said a day after the summer special session ended with the Legislature enacting just half of his agenda that he would support GOP challengers to Republican incumbents who did not back his priorities. Dokupil is the first GOP challenger Abbott has endorsed.

“It’s a little surprising for the governor to get involved,” especially because the seat isn’t open, said Mark P. Jones, a political scientist at Rice. “If Abbott is going to go after a Republican, Sarah Davis is probably at the top of the list.”

Davis is fiscally conservative and socially moderate, especially on issues of abortion, education and health care, Jones said. That makes her the perfect representative for her moderate district but a target in the Republican primary, where the “median voter” tends to be more conservative than Davis, he said.

If Davis loses the nomination, Democrats will have a better chance of picking up the seat, he said.

FIRST READING: `Let Her Speak:’ Inside the screenplay of the Wendy Davis (Sandra Bullock) biopic

Davis is chairwoman of the House General Investigating and Ethics Committee. From that position, she has pushed for several reforms for more accountability in state government. During the summer special session, she and Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, asked Abbott to add ethics reform to the agenda.

Legislation she introduced would have prohibited lawmakers and elected statewide officials from lobbying immediately after leaving office. Other bills would have given the Texas Ethics Commission more oversight of local campaigns and political action committees inside and outside the state, increased disclosure requirements for vendors that do business with local governments to identify possible conflicts of interest, and extended conflict of interest disclosure requirements to members of governing boards at state agencies.

Another bill would have banned political contributions to the legislative and executive branches during special sessions and 20-day veto periods.

An Abbott spokesman said at the time that Davis and Larson were “showboating over proposals that are not on the governor’s call.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Giving City: At event, nonprofits will be urged to lobby lawmakers
Giving City: At event, nonprofits will be urged to lobby lawmakers

Nonprofit, charitable organizations can and should lobby policymakers, and are uniquely suited to do so, according to a group of professional fundraisers, but too many believe they are hindered by federal tax laws or they simply don’t have the capacity to do it. To encourage more Austin nonprofits to advocate and lobby for their missions and...
Austin officer who shot stabbing suspect in December won’t be charged, DA says
Austin officer who shot stabbing suspect in December won’t be charged, DA says

An Austin police officer who shot a man suspected stabbing a woman to death in December will not face charges by the Travis County District Attorney’s Office. Officer Alfredo Delvalle, a 23-year-veteran of the force, wounded Aubrey Quintin Garrett at a Central Austin apartment complex on Lynnwood Street after responding to reports of a knife...
Achievements: Students succeed in international science fest

Seven students who excelled in February at the Austin Energy Regional Science Festival won a total of five awards in global competition that concluded May 18. The seven who won Best of Fair at the Austin festival, which is organized by Austin Energy, advanced to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh. Pa. The Intel event...
FORECAST: Hot start to sunny Memorial Day weekend, heat index to hit 100 
FORECAST: Hot start to sunny Memorial Day weekend, heat index to hit 100 

Friday forecast for Austin: As temperatures climb to near 94 degrees Friday, the heat index value will reach 100, the National Weather Service said. That means if you factored in the relative humidity with the air temperature, it will feel like triple-digit temperatures outside. Friday will kick off Memorial Day weekend with mostly sunny skies, and...
Closing arguments set in Parlin murder trial for Blair, Shelton deaths
Closing arguments set in Parlin murder trial for Blair, Shelton deaths

Closing arguments are scheduled for Friday morning in the capital murder trial of an Austin man accused of killing three people in a string of late 2014 burglaries. Timothy Parlin, 52, declined to take the witness stand Thursday as the defense rested without calling any witnesses. In opening statements, his lawyers said co-defendant Shawn Gant-Benalcazar...
More Stories