In August, I embarked on perhaps the craziest thing that I’ve ever done: I ran for Texas Senate. While break-neck and chaotic, it was one of the most rewarding months of my life. During the emergency special election, I met many truly outstanding Texans, and nearly 3,000 folks put their trust in me. For that, I am beyond humbled. Over the past weeks, many of you have reached out to ask my thoughts on the SD30 runoff between Shelley Luther and Drew Springer. While every political person would tell me to keep my mouth shut, I feel I owe it to my voters to be transparent regarding my thoughts about the runoff.
Having campaigned with all the candidates, my reaction at the outset of the runoff season was that Drew had a better command of the issues. My fear with Shelley was that, regardless of whether or not her allegiance to the principles of conservatism ran deep, her interest in politics started at the point her life came into an abrupt collision with the government just a few months ago. She didn’t have a strong personal voting history and, as a lifelong conservative, I thought my personal voting decision for the runoff was an easy one. I told both Drew and Shelley this when they asked at that time.
But, as is often the case, the more informed you are, the better voter you are. Running for SD30 put me squarely in the know on the play-by-play, and I was naturally invested in the whole process. I needed to understand who I was voting for, and I wanted to make sure the new Senator understood what my voters expected from the seat. I continued attending every meeting and forum I could, just like I did when I was running, except this time I was in the audience.
What I learned during this process was that Drew Springer told different crowds different things depending upon, I would suppose, his estimation of what they wanted to hear. As a homeschooling family, I was encouraged to hear all but one Republican candidate, during the campaign in September, assure audiences in Parker and Cooke counties that they were for school choice and vouchers. However, during a speech in Palo Pinto County, I heard Drew assure a crowd that he would not let homeschooling families take funds needed by public schools: the exact opposite message. This gave me pause.
Then, on November 4, I was shocked to see Rep. Dade Phelan announce that he was the incoming speaker for the Texas House of Representatives and provide a list of members who had publicly pledged support for him. Not only was this a tremendous violation of the Texas GOP platform (which calls for a secret ballot), Phelan was also the replacement hand-picked by Rep Bonnen. Suffice to say I was floored to find Drew Springer’s name on the list of those that supported Phelan’s election. Dade Phelan scores 49% on texasscorecard.com and 71% by the ACU. This was not a victory for Texas Conservatives.
Digging deeper it appeared that Rep. Drew Springer not only pledged his support of Phelan but was key to the scheme to thwart the Texas GOP and select this moderate. To make matters worse, when GOP Chairman Allen West correctly criticized this affair, Springer’s primary social media volunteer called West’s comments “idiotic” and “reckless.”
To me, a vote for Drew was nearly off the table. If this candidate was willing to scheme so overtly during a campaign, what would he be willing to do when he wasn’t under scrutiny? I informed Drew on November 11 that I would not be supporting him and yet a week later his campaign social media volunteers continued to claim that not only me, but that all three republican previous SD 30 candidates were supporting Drew.
I made many discoveries while running for Texas Senate but one of the most shocking is the way that many politicians define loyalty in politics. If I were asked what loyalty meant for a statesman, it would be to hold firm to one’s principles and to the promises the candidate made on the campaign trail. Instead, what I’ve discovered is that loyalty in Austin is defined as being obedient to a club or clique of politicians. As voters, we should all demand absolute loyalty by our elected officials to their constituents, not the other way around. We should hold those representatives to the beliefs and principles which they publicly espoused, even if standing for these beliefs causes them to lose political capital or prestige among the political elite.
So what about Shelley Luther?
I had many questions regarding Shelley’s candidacy. Where did her money come from, and was she “bought?” Are her conservative principles of limited government and personal liberty deeply held? Will she follow through with her rhetoric and stand for her principles once she gets to Austin?
To answer the first question, I went to listen to one of her primary donors, Tim Dunn, speak down in Parker County a few weeks ago. Tim spoke primarily on his theological perspective of limited government of the people, for the people, and by the people based upon the model given by God prior to Saul. This model reminded me greatly of the theology of Americans at the time of the American Revolution, which emphasized this period of Jewish history and justified the responsibility of Americans as the collective monarchs of this country per our founding documents. Indeed, we are responsible for the success of this kingdom, established by its inhabitants and with a government that answers to us. I couldn’t disagree with a single word that Dunn uttered. I was satisfied by his comments and feel that his intentions to back Shelley are honorable.
I then invited Shelley and her husband, Tim, out to our home and spoke with them at length. This was a conversation that we had briefly on the campaign trail, but we dug deeper and got to know one another better. We spoke about the issues and matters of principle. I believe Shelley has solid core principles and is connected to solid conservatives such as Jonathan Stickland and Bob Hall. She likely doesn’t have John Locke and Montesquieu on her nightstand (yet), but she has something perhaps more relevant and important: she has a deep disdain for the establishment and the club established among faux conservatives in the legislature.
Finally, Shelley has a track record of standing for her beliefs at great personal risk. We are all aware that she stood in defense of the illegal closure of her property, and went to jail rather than publicly renounce her rights in a Dallas courtroom. This record is in stark contrast to Drew Springer, who chose to betray the voters of HD69 and SD30 with his support of Phelan.
So with all that said, who am I voting for in 2020 for Texas Senate District 30?
And if she doesn’t stay conservative, I will do what any conservative voter should do, see to it that she is primaried in 2022.