Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen vows to punish Republicans who oppose Democrats during the 2020 elections.
According to Brandon Waltens of Texas Scorecard, Dennis Bonnen is making it clear to elected officials: “Campaign against incumbents, and you will be punished.”
During a media interview earlier in the week, Bonnen stated that he was implementing a new policy of banning members from participating in other electoral campaigns, which effectively prevents “legislators from endorsing, financially contributing, or otherwise assisting in races against incumbent members.”
Bonnen used the following reasoning to justify this move:
If members of the Legislature are out campaigning against each other, you then don’t accomplish things like that because you bring the elections into the legislative process, and you don’t get over the wounds and the battles. And then people turn into Washington, and you’re simply here to legislate on politics, not on policy and not on accomplishment of success.
Waltens noted that Bonnen’s decision stands in stark contrast to what Governor Greg Abbott has done in the past.
This is a notable departure from precedent in the last few legislative sessions, where even Gov. Greg Abbott took the extraordinary step of endorsing in primary elections against liberal Republicans in the legislature, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick supported then-State Rep. Pat Fallon (R–Prosper) in his successful primary challenge against State Sen. Craig Estes (R–Wichita Falls).
However, Bonnen takes it to another level by saying these rules don’t just apply to primary elections, but he also wants to extend them to the general election as well. The Houston Chronicle reported that Bonnen’s warning “applies to members of both parties and those who serve as party chairs.”
Waltens argues that following Bonnen’s new rules is a dangerous strategy for Republicans.
With Republicans losing 12 seats in the last election, and holding a narrow 83-67 majority in the Texas House this session, members following Bonnen’s demand would be banned from contributing to Republican candidates in swing districts or otherwise endorsing efforts to grow their majority.
If any member does not comply with Bonnen’s demands, the House Speaker says he would “publicly come out against members who take part and penalize them in the next legislative session.”
This announcement came around the same time that Bonnen praised anti-gun Democratic State Representative Joe Moody, stating to a reporter that he thinks “Texas would be very blessed if there was a Democrat majority and Joe Moody wanted to lead the House.”
For some grassroots activists, Bonnen’s dedication to keeping Texas red is now being questioned.
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