Cruz declared his support for the governor back in August while Abbott faced a three-pronged primary that pulled him to the right on a number of issues.
But on these endorsements, Cruz contrasts with Abbott’s choices. Cruz endorsed:
- Ben Bius, House District (HD) 12
- Ellen Troxclair, HD 19
- Mike Olcott, HD 60
- Eric Bowlin, HD 70
- Carrie Isaac, HD 73
This isn’t the first time Cruz has chosen candidates that differ from fellow high-level GOP figures. In 2020, Cruz endorsed Raul Reyes against then-President Donald Trump’s endorsed candidate Tony Gonzales, who won the nomination and the seat. And this time around, Cruz and Abbott have agreed on one candidate so far: former Sen. Pete Flores, now running for the open Senate District 24 seat.
Abbott’s endorsements show a disconnect from previous statements he’s made on one issue in particular: school choice. Multiple Abbott endorsees have either publicly denounced school voucher systems or been endorsed by teacher unions who oppose them.
But for Cruz, the issue is of paramount importance.
“When it comes to school choice, it is the most important domestic issue in the country and it’s the civil rights issue of this century,” Cruz said at the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s 2022 Policy Orientation.
“When I’m deciding who to support in a contested Republican primary, we have a spreadsheet and I pull up every vote someone has cast on school choice. If you voted against school choice, the chances of me endorsing you are essentially zero. If you voted for it…then I’m going to look very seriously at engaging and engaging hard.”
Back in January, Abbott said he anticipates that the 2023 legislative session will “see a stronger, swifter, more powerful movement advocating school choice than [ever in Texas history].” But Abbott’s “Parental Bill of Rights” plan does not include a voucher system, or anything close to it, in his priority list.
The divide between Cruz and Abbott on these endorsements is indicative of the intra-GOP divide on school choice, especially among elected officials. Legislators and voters from rural areas tend to be less supportive of the prospect because vouchers would take tax money elsewhere where it otherwise would go to the school district. One student, and the money associated, leaving a lower enrollment district would have a larger financial impact than on a larger, urban, or suburban district.
School choice proponents, like Cruz, say that the money should follow the student and that discretion over that should lie with the parents.
But school choice’s chances in the legislature next year remain a question. Neither set of interim charges, which serve as a road map for the next session, for the two legislative chambers includes the exploration of a voucher system.
While it’s not exactly representative of all voters who will vote Republican in the November general, a school choice proposition on the March 1 ballot was supported by 88 percent of GOP primary voters. Those propositions are broad, and often slanted, questions on the voters’ preference on an array of issues.
However, within the legislature, positions on the issue are much more divided.
Cruz’s choices show who he believes to be committed to pushing for school choice legislation when the legislature convenes again in January.
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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.