Abbott Muddles Far Right Megadonor Plans
with Late Emergence in State House OT Duel
Legislative and Congress Ratings
By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor
June 28, 2020
After catering to conservatives in a losing fight against the coronavirus, Governor Greg Abbott is turning against the hard right with his intervention in a Republican primary runoff election in a Texas House district where he rallied behind the establishment candidate on Sunday.
The Republican governor is shunning the GOP right-wing in two other House runoff battles as well with his support for State Reps. J.D. Sheffield of Gatesville and Dan Flynn of Van in duels with challengers in races that will be on the July 14 ballot.
Abbott's belated endorsement of Glenn Rogers in the overtime fight in House District 60 puts the governor across the ring from Cisco fracking billionaire Farris Wilks - the Texas tea party's chief financier whose son-in-law is competing for the seat as well in the July 14 runoff vote.
Wilks family member and employee Jon Francis led Rogers by two percentage points with almost 46 percent of the vote in the March primary election when two other candidates were eliminated.
But Abbott might have innoculated to some degree from attacks from his conservative detractors with some creative maneuvering that appeared to be on display several days ago when he endorsed Jack Wilson for the commissioner's court in the largest of eight counties in HD 60.
Wilson became an overnight celebrity in December when he gunned down a shooter in the West Freeway Church of Christ in the Tarrant County suburb of White Settlement. A 71-year-old small business owner who's a former deputy sheriff, Wilson is attempting to parlay the newfound hero status into a political career with the governor's help in the OT clash with outgoing State Rep. Mike Lang of Granbury in the competition for county commissioner.
Francis and Wilks have been accused of attempting to buy the House seat in north central Texas after apparently persuading Lang to cancel a re-election race on the day of the filing deadline in January when it would be too late for anyone else who didn't have access to massive sums of money to be competitive.
Lang had expected to run as a prohibitive favorite in the commissioner court bid before Wilson shot those plans apart with his church vigilante heroics. Lang and Wilson scored 44 percent and 43 percent of the March primary vote respectively.
Abbott is interfering with the Wilks family hopes for controlling the state House and county court seats by inserting himself into the HD 60 and Hood commissioner frays in an apparent recognition that the conservative extremists to whom he'd been pandering with a lax approach to the COVID-19 crisis are major political enemies who despise the governor now.
The governor's support could be a double-edge sword in a runoff election that's typically dominated by the same staunch conservatives who have been trashing him for restrictions that he'd imposed in April during the initial virus surge. The massive new wave has demonstrated that the Abbott reopening of the state was premature with the count of new cases and hospitalizations on record-breaking binges with the coronavirus out of control and state government clueless on how to contain.
But Abbott's critics on the far right have hammered relentlessly for failing to bow to their demands for an immediate and unconditional ending of pandemic restrictions amid claims that the virus severity has been dramatically overblown in a state where it's killed almost 2,400 people while infecting nearly 149,000 since the initial outbreak here in early March.
The state has reported 33,487 new cases in the past six days - a daily average of more than 5,641. The Department of State Health Services recorded 5,357 more coronavirus infections on Sunday but made it more difficult for the public to access information on hospital admissions for virus infections and testing.