The Back MicThe Back Mic: Comptroller Jumps into House Runoff, Rinaldi Commends Abbott Border Action, Straus Calls School Curriculum Issue ‘Fake’

This week — Hegar endorses an incumbent’s runoff challenger, Texas GOP Chair Matt Rinaldi applauds an Abbott border security more, and Joe Straus slams Texas Republicans for school curriculum criticisms.
April 15, 2022
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Comptroller Hegar Endorses Against Texas House Incumbent

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar is the latest statewide incumbent to jump into the May 24 runoff elections. This week, he announced his endorsement of Stan Kitzman, the primary challenger to state Rep. Phil Stephenson (R-Wharton).

In the primary, Stephenson edged out Kitzman 40 percent to 34.5 percent but did not eclipse 50 percent to avoid the runoff — a difference of fewer than 1,200 votes.

“Stan is a strong conservative with decades of experience as a leader in his community,” Hegar said in the announcement.

“He knows the agricultural community, understands the issues our state is facing and has a record of getting things done. As a decorated combat veteran that served our nation, I know that he will relentlessly fight to preserve our Texas values. With the Biden Border Crisis threatening our state, we need Stan in the legislature to fight for the safety and future of Texas.”

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During his time in both the House and Senate, Hegar represented similar counties to the current House District 85 makeup.

“I am grateful to be supported by a fellow Aggie and trusted leader like Comptroller Glenn Hegar. He understands what it means to live in the heart of Texas and serve his community,” Kitzman said of the endorsement. “He has spent years cutting taxes and leading with conservative values, and it is an honor to be endorsed by someone with his record.”

Texas GOP Chair Applauds Abbott’s Inbound Commerce Inspections

Before taking over the Republican Party of Texas, Matt Rinaldi was one of the biggest critics of incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott — even endorsing his primary challenger, Don Huffines. But since taking over the state party, he hasn’t been as bombastic in criticizing the governor and has even complimented him on occasion.

While the governor was taking flak over his order to heighten inspections at the Nuevo León port of entry into Texas, which caused massive backups in traffic, Rinaldi defended Abbott.

“The decision to apply pressure so agreements like this could be reached is good policy,” he said. “The flack [Gov. Abbott] is getting from the Austin press make[s] me like it even more. Long way to go on the border, but this is meaningful. Good job.”

After the maneuver, Nuevo León Governor Samuel Alejandro García Sepúlveda entered a memo of understanding with Texas to strengthen its own border security.

While he’s been less pointed, Rinaldi has not avoided confrontation with the governor entirely. He vociferously called on the governor to place a ban on employer vaccine mandates before the legislature in special sessions.

When he first assumed the chairmanship, Rinaldi said that his previous criticisms were water under the bridge.

“As RPT chair, we do need to come together. Whether I personally endorsed somebody or didn’t before I was RPT chair, now we’re going to work together to make sure that we win in 2022.”

Former Speaker Joe Straus Calls School Curriculum Fight a ‘Fake Issue’

Speaking to the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce alongside former Congressman Will Hurd, former Texas House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) questioned Republicans’ focus on sexually explicit materials and critical race theory-imbued teachings in public schools.

According to Patrick Svitek of the Texas Tribune, Straus chided the state’s Republicans, calling on citizens to focus on school board elections, “especially ‘with all the random fights that have been created and all the fake issue that they have to deal with.’”

He then sardonically added, “The pornography that’s rampant in our schools, the curriculum that’s being eliminated that isn’t even being taught.”

This drew a rebuke from some Texas Republicans. Rep. Jared Patterson (R-Frisco), who has been identifying book vendors responsible for supplying sexually explicit books to schools in bundles, said Straus is just “not a fan of Texas Republicans.’ Period. The end.”

Among the books that were found in school libraries that Patterson has spotlighted is “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” which contains extremely sexually explicit passages. Referring to this book, Patterson asked Straus rhetorically, “[Are you] willing to stand publicly before your local PTA and read this?”

Rinaldi added, “An example of why Speaker Straus is the former speaker.”

Straus flirted with a run in 2022 of some kind, speculated as either for governor or lieutenant governor, but ultimately decided against the proposition.

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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.