The Back MicThe Back Mic: Attorney General Candidates’ Ratings Compared, GOP Member Files Heartbeat Act Exception, National Group Scores 2021 Legislature

This week — attorney general candidates’ records are compared, a GOP lawmaker files a “rape and incest” exception to the Heartbeat Bill, and a national group releases its 2021 legislative grades for Texas lawmakers.
September 24, 2021

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Politics of Attorney General Candidates Compared

Attorney General Ken Paxton and state Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) both served in the state House but missed each other by one session. Now, with Krause’s entry into the primary for attorney general, the two are rivals.

Rice University’s Mark P. Jones releases legislative ratings from most conservative to most liberal after every legislative session. In an analysis provided to The Texan, Jones found that Krause rated more conservatively than Paxton by a slim margin when comparing Paxton’s final legislative session in 2011 and Krause’s first in 2013.

Graph provided by Rice University’s Mark P. Jones

“The analysis indicates two things quite clearly,” Jones told The Texan. “First, Krause and Paxton’s respective voting records place them among the very most conservative members of the Republican House Caucus during this period, with Krause the third most conservative and Paxton the sixth most conservative out of a total of 132 Republicans.”

“Second, since there exists a substantial overlap between Krause and Paxton’s respective [Credible Intervals], we can say with a high level of confidence that neither had a voting record that was significantly more or less conservative than the other.”

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Jones’ analysis considered the roll call votes cast by all 132 Republicans that served during those two sessions as well as nine Democrats that ranked more conservatively than the least conservative Republican, former Rep. Bennett Ratliff.

Republican House Member Files “Rape and Incest” Exemption to Heartbeat Bill

The most liberal-rated Republican in the Texas legislature, Rep. Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio), filed a bill this week to provide an exemption from the Texas Heartbeat Act for instances of rape and incest.

House Bill 99 reads that in those instances, “A physician who performs or induces an abortion [under this bill’s provisions] shall make a written notation of the exception in the pregnant woman ’s medical file.”

In a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott, Larson said, “This is a common sense fix that will maintain the pro-life intent of the bill while honoring the traditional philosophy that there should always be a rape and incest exception to an abortion prohibition.”

“My voting record over the last 6 sessions,” he continued, “has reflected my commitment to preventing abortion.”

“As a consistently pro-life member of the Texas House, supporting the pro-life cause is important to me, however, that SB 8 does not include this exception has weighed heavily on me since the bill’s passage.”

Larson voted for the Texas Heartbeat Act each on both second and third readings during the regular session. The San Antonio representative has a complicated history with Abbott — a public feud erupted in 2017, resulting in Abbott backing Larson’s primary opponent, but the feud smoothed over by 2020 when the governor endorsed Larson for re-election.

The two biggest pro-life advocacy groups in Texas were divided on Larson in 2020. Texas Right to Life, a main driver of the Texas Heartbeat Act, did not endorse Larson for re-election. But Texas Alliance for Life did endorse.

Larson has spent much of this year staking out an antagonist position within the Texas GOP and this is another move along that line.

Club for Growth Releases 2021 Texas Legislative Ratings

In the second iteration of its Texas legislative scorecard, the conservative tax and spending focused group Club for Growth identified seven Texas legislators who scored above 90 percent in their rating system.

Those seven are:

  • Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood) – 92 percent
  • Rep. Jeff Cason (R-Bedford) – 100 percent
  • Rep. Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City) – 98 percent
  • Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park) – 97 percent
  • Rep. Mayes Middleton (R-Wallisville) – 97 percent
  • Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) – 97 percent
  • Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington) – 93 percent

“Texas has a small group of staunch conservatives,” Club for Growth’s President David McIntosh said in a statement, “but given the size of the state’s legislature (181 members) and the state’s conservative bent, there should be many more Defenders of Economic Freedom.”

“Many Republicans haven’t been doing their jobs, and this scorecard will allow the people of Texas to hold their representatives accountable.”

Club for Growth’s analysis does not account for vote changes made in the journals. Vote changes can be made after the fact for any reason but are often used to fix machine malfunctions or human errors.

According to the group, Senate Democrats and Republicans, on average, scored higher than their House counterparts.

The lowest rated Republicans were Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) with 65 percent and Reps. Stan Lambert (R-Abilene) and Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio) both with a 34 percent score.

View the full ratings for the House and Senate. The vote records can be viewed for the House here, and the Senate here.


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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.