Long time gun control advocacy group Brady PAC is planning to invest in Democratic candidates in Texas, and will specifically target a close race for Texas Congressional District 7 in the Houston area.
Brian Lemek, executive director of the Brady PAC, told The Texan that his group would be maxing out federal contribution limits on behalf of freshman Representative Lizzie Fletcher, who represents much of the Energy Corridor on the West side of Houston.
Lemek said Fletcher had supported key gun control legislation advocated by the Brady PAC and added that she was a leader on the issue.
“Lizzie is a champion of our cause,” said Lemek. “Seeing someone who is so good on guns coming out of Texas, coming out of Houston, we think it really helps on the issue for other members and other candidates.”
Lemek specifically cited a bill Fletcher had supported last year that would have vastly expanded background checks for gun purchases, as well as requiring checks for gun loans and gifts (HR 8), which he said closed loopholes related to online and gun show transactions.
Opponents to HR 8 said the bill posed multiple problems for current and potential gun owners, including lack of adequate exemptions for stalking victims or temporary storage of weapons with friends or extended family members.
Fletcher also earned Brady PAC support when she voted for HR 1112, a measure that would have extended time allowed for a federal background check to 10-20 days (HR 1112).
Brady PAC and other gun control advocates say the latter bill would have closed the “Charleston Loophole,” which they claim allowed South Carolina shooter Dylan Roof to obtain a gun, although former FBI Director James Comey said Roof’s approval was due to a National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) employee mistake.
Both background check expansion bills passed the House largely along party lines, but have not been taken up by the Senate.
Lemek said Rep. Fletcher was also on their side “on the assault weapon ban.”
“There’s about 15 million assault weapons, or assault-style weapons, We don’t see them going anywhere, but what we do encourage is that we not produce or sell anymore, and that we push really hard legislatively on safe storage.”
In addition to financial contributions, Brady PAC will engage in joint fundraising for Fletcher’s re-election campaign using the organization’s 100,000 plus member donor list. They will also solicit pass-through donations for Fletcher and other candidates.
Lemek told The Texan that Brady PAC did not reach out to Wesley Hunt, the winner of the Republican Primary, to gauge his stance on gun control legislation.
A West Point graduate and army combat veteran, Hunt has campaigned on promises to “protect our 2nd Amendment freedoms,” but has not opined publicly on specific legislation.
In addition to the contest for Congressional District 7, Brady PAC will be supporting Democrats MJ Hegar for Senate, Wendy Davis for Congressional District 21, Sri Kulkarni in TX-22, Gina Ortiz-Jones in TX-23, and Colin Allred in TX-32.
Currently, TX-21 is represented by Chip Roy, a strong advocate for Second Amendment rights who voted against Brady PAC’s favored legislation. Republicans vying to replace retiring Rep. Pete Olson (R) are headed to a July runoff election between Fort Bend Sheriff Troy Nehls and conservative activist Kathaleen Wall.
Brady PAC is also working with “FLIP the Texas House” to help register new residents of Texas to vote, and Lemek said the group would also be involved in 25 or more Texas House races on behalf of Democrat candidates either with direct financial contributions or through the group One Vote at a Time in producing high-end advertisements.
When asked if there were any Republicans Brady PAC supported, Lemek said the group did support Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) and a few others, but none in Texas in 2020.
Lemek said Brady PAC believes gun control policies have become more accepted in recent years, even among Texans.
“[Gun control] is no longer the third rail it once was; 2018 and 2016 really demonstrated that to all of us,” he said. “Texans have this amazing gun culture, many of whom look at that stuff and say, ‘Of course I will store my guns safely, of course certain people shouldn’t have certain guns, and certain people shouldn’t be able to get guns in the first place.’ The majority of gun owners are in on these issues.”
Although Lemek admitted his group had not vetted Wesley Hunt, he added, “We recognize and we appreciate Hunt’s service to this country, and think he understands guns as well, we just, Lizzie is ours.”
Earlier this year the Cook Political Report rated TX-07 as “Leans Democrat,” and a March 8 poll indicated Fletcher and Hunt were tied at 45-45. Fletcher holds a fundraising advantage with $3.4 million raised to Hunt’s $2.2 million.
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Holly Hansen is a freelance writer living in Harris County. Her former column, “All In Perspective” ran in The Georgetown Advocate, Jarrell Star Ledger, and The Hill Country News, and she has contributed to a variety of Texas digital media outlets. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Central Florida with a degree in History, and in addition to writing about politics and policy, also writes about faith and culture.