I confess, I’ve been enjoying a few moments of schadenfreude over the recent electoral results. Not very grownup of me, I know, but let’s just say there was a little pent-up emotion that needed someplace to go. And what’s the point of having a blog if you can’t use it for things like that?
James Leininger spent nearly $5 million this year trying to elect voucher-friendly lawmakers to the Legislature, but now the retired San Antonio businessman and physician is farther from his goal than ever.
The success of the Texas Parent PAC leaves Leininger with roughly eight fewer House supporters than he had before last week’s elections.
While Leininger invested heavily in Republican candidates to advance that cause, San Antonio business leader Charles Butt gave the Texas Parent PAC nearly $300,000 to support anti-voucher candidates, according to campaign finance reports.
Butt, chairman and CEO of the H-E-B grocery chain his family founded 101 years ago, contributed another $375,000 directly to Republican and Democratic candidates endorsed by the Parent PAC.
“It tells me that a small group of people can make a difference,” Carolyn Boyle of Austin said of the Texas Parent PAC, which she helped form last year after growing frustrated at repeated legislative efforts to approve a voucher program.
ParentPAC, baby. Feel the power. Here’s a full accounting:
Winning candidates endorsed by Texas Parent PAC
District 32: Juan Garcia, D-Corpus Christi (defeated Republican Rep. Gene Seaman)
District 47: Valinda Bolton, D-Austin (open seat) (note: Republican open seat)
District 48: Donna Howard, D-Austin (won a special election earlier this year for an open seat) (note: another Republican open seat)
District 54: Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen (open seat)
District 71: Susan King, R-Abilene (open seat)
District 72: Drew Darby, R-San Angelo (defeated Rep. Scott Campbell in the GOP primary)
District 85: Joe Heflin, D-Crosbyton (open seat) (note: Democratic open seat that had been expected to flip)
District 94: Diane Patrick, R-Arlington (defeated House Public Education Chairman Kent Grusendorf, R-Arlington, in the GOP primary)
District 101: Thomas Latham, R-Sunnyvale (defeated Rep. Elvira Reyna in the GOP primary)
District 107: Allen Vaught, D-Dallas (defeated House Public Education Committee member Rep. Bill Keffer, R-Dallas)
District 118: Joe Farias, D-San Antonio (open seat)
District 134: Ellen Cohen, D-Houston (defeated Republican Rep. Martha Wong)
That’s three Republican incumbents defeated by Democrats, three Republican incumbents defeated in primaries, and two Republican open seats won by Democrats. Go ahead and find me a better example of political muscle than that.
Message still not received:
Impressive as their win Tuesday might be, it’s not likely to discourage voucher supporters.
“He is more determined than ever,” Leininger spokesman Ken Hoagland said.
With elections over, the debate can focus on the benefits of a school voucher program that would allow some low-income children to transfer from inner city schools to private schools, he said.
“And the merits of school choice are so compelling that we will win the support of both Republican and Democrat legislators,” Hoagland said.
Too bad those so-called merits can’t win the support of Republican and Democratic voters. Thanks for playing, have a nice day.
And just for good measure, Clay Robison noted another big loser this season.
Houston-based Texans for Lawsuit Reform, which has had much success in recent years helping to elect pro-tort reform (and mostly Republican) legislators, backed losing candidates in several high-profile races this year.
TLR’s biggest loss was the $700,000 it spent on former San Antonio Sen. Frank Madla’s losing race in the Democratic primary.
It spent $434,000 trying to help Republican Bill Welch win an open, but formerly Republican House seat in Austin. The Democrat won. It gave $146,000 to Rep. Joe Nixon’s unsuccessful Senate race in the Republican primary in Houston.
And it contributed $72,000 to Republican Rep. Martha Wong’s losing re-election bid and $83,000 to Republican Talmadge Heflin’s unsuccessful comeback try, both in Houston.
TLR gave $200,000 to George Antuna, a Republican who lost a hard-fought House race in San Antonio.
No refunds, fellas. And thanks for the memories, Clay.