Elections 2022State HouseTexas Tech, University Funding Featured Among Standard GOP Primary Issues in Lubbock House Race

After 12 years in the Texas House, Rep. John Frullo chose retirement and now four GOP candidates are vying to succeed him.
February 23, 2022
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Texas Tech’s men’s basketball team is notable for scratching and clawing its way through games — and the GOP primary for House District (HD) 84, which contains much of the university, is similarly scrappy.

Four candidates — personal injury attorney David Glasheen, party activist Cheryl Little, former Lubbock County GOP chair Carl Tepper, and businessman Kade Wilcox — are vying for the Republican nomination. The R-60% district, according to The Texan’s Texas Partisan Index, is open due to longtime state Rep. John Frullo’s (R-Lubbock) retirement.

Glasheen has paced the field on campaign spending, peppering the district with television and radio ad buys and mail. To date, he’s spent nearly $675,000 during the campaign and loaned himself $700,000. The son of Kevin Glasheen, one of the most noteworthy personal injury attorneys in the state, David works at his father’s firm Glasheen, Valles, & Inderman.

This self-financing is something Glasheen touts, saying in an attack ad against Tepper, “Like Donald Trump, I’m funding my own campaign, and I will not be bought by special interests.”

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The flood of money into the geographically small district has taken aback Glasheen’s challengers as well as some in the community.

“We’re going to discover if they can buy a seat,” Tepper told The Texan in an interview.

Wilcox joined Tepper in the criticism, telling The Texan, “David, if he wins, is going to be there for 30 years — you can just see it.”

Glasheen responded to his opponents’ criticisms, telling The Texan, “Voters should be more receptive to someone who is self-financing than one taking money from special interests.”

He then criticized Tepper for receiving financial support from Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR) PAC, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to tort reform that aims to rein in malpractice litigation. Besides Tepper, TLR has endorsed a litany of Republicans. While no Democrats have been supported by TLR this cycle, a few did receive support in 2020.

Tepper is second in fundraising, pulling in over $450,000 so far, but only spending 14 percent of it to-date. Wilcox follows with about $80,000 both raised and spent.

The former county GOP chair boasts the most notable endorsements, with Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) and Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) both supporting him. He’s also been endorsed by pro-life activist Mark Lee Dickson, the man behind the Sanctuary for the Unborn ordinances across Texas and the nation which Lubbock voters approved in May 2021.

Wilcox is endorsed by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

The race’s issues mirror those of GOP primaries across the state: border security, property taxes, education, gun rights, and the economy-plaguing inflation.

Tepper pointed to his time in the U.S. Air Force as a flyer as a boon to his experience on national security-type issues, and specifically the border. He pointed to the border wall as one part of the overall solution, but then said the use of new generation technology to fill the gaps is necessary.

Border security is not among Glasheen’s issues listed on his website, but he has touted its importance on other mediums. Glasheen said that it is far and away the number one concern he’s heard from voters on the trail.

Wilcox’s top issue is the economy and the associated problems. He said the government must be limited for small businesses to flourish. Wilcox then motioned at property tax reform, saying that in the short term the state must buy down local government rates so that in the long term the entire system can be evaluated.

Glasheen thinks a beneficial reform would be to make chief appraisers elected — “It’s a conflict of interest to have them appointed by the appraisal district.”

Tepper wants to cap appraisals, tossing out a 2.5 percent cap as a potential option.

“I don’t trust anything that’s phased because you’ll just end up with a high sales tax and high property taxes,” Tepper said of reform. State leaders have indicated property taxes will be one focus when the legislature reconvenes next year — among those Governor Greg Abbott who’s running on a slate focused on buydowns, reducing appraisals, and expanding exemptions for small businesses.

But Tepper’s plan stops short of a shift away from the property tax system, despite Abbott’s suggestion at the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Policy Orientation that transition out of the current system is the goal.

Another of Tepper’s issues is facilitating the Ports-to-Plains interstate highway that would extend from Denver to Laredo.

Wilcox homed in on public education reform, criticizing the system’s current overreliance on standardized testing. “Some assessment is critical, but we overdo it to the point that students spend the whole year preparing for one test rather than so much else,” Wilcox said.

A point of contrast between Tepper and Wilcox is school choice and vouchers. Wilcox said he’s against a voucher system while Tepper said he wants to see at least some money, if not all of the education funding, “follow the student.”

The most uniquely Lubbock issue in the campaign centers on its flagship university. Currently, Texas Tech does not benefit from the billion-dollar Permanent University Fund (PUF), an endowment fund financed largely by the oilfields of Red Raider country from which only the University of Texas (UT) and Texas A&M University systems benefit.

This issue fell under the spotlight when UT announced it’d be joining the Southeastern Conference, following A&M’s path a decade ago and abandoning the rest of the Texas schools in the Big 12.

A joint-chamber legislative hearing was held on the issue where both Perry and Burrows, both Tech grads, lambasted the current PUF system as a parasitic relationship with West Texas and its university getting the short end of the stick.

“It’s very possible Tech can get its own PUF with the University of Houston,” Tepper said of the possibilities that lie ahead in the 88th legislative session. “We need to be treated like the flagship university that we are.”

Wilcox’s website reads, “Tech deserves a more significant share of the Permanent University Fund (PUF) to invest in our university — especially since most of the wealth for the PUF comes from the lands of West Texas.”

Glasheen told Lubbock-based radio host Chad Hasty that the PUF should be broken up and said Tech should receive more research funding than it currently does. 

Texas Tech looms so large in the race that Glasheen’s status as a Texas A&M grad has even been used as a knock in a mail piece.

Tepper closed saying that he tells voters he’s “looking for things not to do to you,” adding that voters “just want to be left alone and are tired of the mandates and of school districts not being responsive to their concerns.”

Wilcox said, “When I say I have zero desire to be a politician — I have no desire to be in Austin for 30 years.”

“People are looking at this race and wanting an independent voice,” Glasheen stated, criticizing the legislature’s slow-movement on conservative priorities. “We’ve had GOP majorities since 2003 and it took 20 years to pass the Heartbeat Bill and Constitutional Carry..”

Frullo has thus far remained neutral in the race to succeed him.

Little returned an interview request.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include comments from Glasheen.

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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is 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.