86th LegislatureIssuesStatewide NewsExclusive: Club For Growth Announces New Texas State Legislature Scorecard

The political juggernaut is stepping into Texas politics, launching a new scorecard designed to grade state legislators on their adherence to fiscal conservatism and limited government.
October 22, 2019
Later today, the Club for Growth Foundation will release its first scorecard grading the voting records of Texas legislators after this past session.

Club for Growth President David McIntosh said of the move, “The Club for Growth Foundation’s Congressional Scorecard is already the gold-standard in publishing the voting records of Senators and Members of the U.S. House of Representatives on economic legislation, and the State Legislative Scorecards will help educate citizens about which elected officials are champions of pro-growth policies at the state level.”

Known for its congressional scorecard and free-market advocacy, the organization’s mission is to “inform the general public about the many benefits of economic freedom and limited government.”

In addition to its foundation, Club for Growth has a political action committee (PAC) that raises money for conservative candidates and a campaign wing in Club for Growth Action. The latter carries out political efforts such as television, radio, and digital advertising as well as direct mail campaigns. 

The PAC has contributed millions of dollars from its donors to fiscally conservative candidates since the turn of the millennium, helping to send numerous well-known conservatives to Washington, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Rand Paul (R-KY).

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In 2018, Club donated $3.5 million to congressional Republicans and spent $6.5 million on independent expenditures in congressional races. Beneficiaries of the PAC’s financial support include Texas Reps. Ron Wright (R-TX-06), Chip Roy (R-TX-21), and Michael Cloud (R-TX-27).

Thus far in this cycle, it has dispersed over $650,000 to Republican candidates.

The PAC, however, is separate from the foundation which is publishing the scorecard. The foundation does not take political positions and thus stays out of campaigns.

The scorecard grades state legislators’ voting record on taxes, spending, and other economic issues. Legislators who receive a 90 percent rating or above in a given year and also have a lifetime score of 90 percent are dubbed “Defenders of Economic Freedom.”

From this past session, only two members out of the 181-member body received that designation: Bob Hall (R-Edgewood) in the Texas Senate and Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) in the Texas House. Stickland announced earlier this year his retirement from the legislature.

In the Senate, the average score among Republicans was 80 percent while among Democrats the average was 30 percent. For the House, Republicans averaged 63 percent with Democrats averaging only 20 percent.

The highest-rated Democrat in the Senate is Juan Hinojosa (D-McAllen) at 54 percent. The House’s top-rated Democrat is Alex Dominguez (D-Brownsville) at 37 percent.

Club for Growth’s lowest-rated Republicans are Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) and Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place) at 67 and 37 percent, respectively.

Regarding the 86th Legislature, McIntosh told The Texan, “The addiction to spending is increasingly bipartisan and that was on full display in Austin. Lawmakers should have spent less time talking to lobbyists and more time protecting taxpayers through bigger tax cuts and less spending. These observations are reflected in the scorecard.”

Club for Growth’s announcement comes about a week after Michael Quinn Sullivan released the long-awaited recording in which Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) offered a quid pro quo to the Empower Texans CEO.

Notably, Empower Texans maintains a well-known conservative scorecard called the “Fiscal Responsibility Index,” which has been conducted for every session since 2007.

About bringing another conservative scorecard into Texas, McIntosh added, “Empower Texans does great work. We believe more scorecards bring more attention and desperately needed accountability. The primary difference is Empower Texans scorecard scores a higher number of votes.”

In the same announcement, the Club for Growth Foundation also revealed a scorecard for Missouri’s state legislature. It also has scorecards in  Florida, New Mexico, Tennessee, and Virginia.


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.