Speaker Drops $3M Into New PAC; Will It Support ALL Texas House Incumbents?

As semiannual fundraising reports were trickling in during the first major deadline of the 2020 election cycle, Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen announced the formation of a PAC to support incumbents.

Bonnen, following in the tradition of Speakers before, dropped in $3 million to help jump-start the newly formed but long-awaited Texas Leads PAC.

But what makes this one different is the tone Bonnen set during the 86th Legislature: Bonnen urged members of the Texas House of Representatives to not campaign against one another or …

“The consequence is simple: If you choose to campaign against any of your sitting colleagues, I will weigh in against you. And if I’m fortunate enough to be Speaker, you will find yourself not well-positioned in the next session.”

Statewide Democrats and Republicans are nonetheless eager to flip seats. The Dems need nine additional seats to turn the chamber blue, and Republicans will continue to aim for supermajority status.

The Texas GOP welcomed news of the long-awaited PAC, while state Democrats indicated they will continue their efforts to flip seats.

Just before the June 30 campaign finance filing deadline, former Speaker Joe Straus unveiled the Texas Forever Forward PAC, dropping in $2.5 million as a seed — and which could possibly tap into the Speaker’s $7 million war chest over time.

From the hip: Whether the PAC will support Republicans and Democrats alike remains to be seen, and any speculation to that effect is unwarranted. With donations from GOP-friendly groups such as the Associated Republicans of Texas it is doubtful the Speaker will donate much, if any, cash to support a friendly Democrat. Bonnen’s warning to incumbents to refrain from campaigning against one another may not necessarily translate into a bipartisan PAC. Rather, this PAC will likely be one that keeps with the tradition of prior Speaker PACs (Straus’s House Leadership Fund, Tom Craddick‘s Stars Over Texas, etc.): supporting his supporters within his own party in order to ward off any primary challengers or general election threats. We can, however, expect this PAC, along with Straus’s Texas Forever Forward PAC, to serve as a dominant vehicle for defending the generally more moderate wing of the GOP House throughout the 2020 election cycle.

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