Breitbart Texas Editor Brandon Darby sounded off on Houston radio about the recent primary elections in Texas, the state of the Texas Republican Party in general, and a “Russian oligarchy-like” scenario in Texas politics that occurred because rural Texas GOP state lawmakers wouldn’t “kiss a billionaire’s ring.” Darby said Texas Republican leadership likes to “romanticize rural Texans by wearing cowboy hats, boots, and Wrangler Jeans,” but their policies actually “strangle rural Texas communities.”
Specifically, Darby mentioned Texas Billionaire Tim Dunn and his use of his lobbyist-like group Empower Texans in efforts to primary two ultra-conservative rural Texas lawmakers in the Panhandle, State Rep. Ken King and State Senator Kel Seliger.
Darby told Houston’s KPRC radio (edited for brevity and clarity):
“I think the Republican Party has gone too knee-jerk right in Texas. I think that there are a couple of billionaires, specifically, I’m not knocking the guy, maybe I’d do the same thing if I were a billionaire. But like Tim Dunn in Midland. He has Empower Texans, Michael Quinn Sullivan, that group. And what he does, basically, is they go around and any politician who doesn’t vote perfectly like they want, they primary. They put mailers that I think are actually a bit dishonest in all the mailboxes in somebody’s district. They pump a lot of dollars into trying to remove people.
“I’m looking at one right now that came in my mailbox about Ken King. It’s claiming that he’s soft on border security and it’s from a guy named Jason Huddleston who was backed by Tim Dunn’s lobby-like group, Empower Texans.
“You got these guys up in the Panhandle who represent rural Texas. They voted dang near perfectly with the conservative cause and also dang near perfectly with what Dan Patrick wanted and dang near perfectly with what Empower Texans wanted. But there are a couple of issues because they are from a rural place that go against the party line that the more knee-jerk Republicans wanted.
“Because they didn’t get on their knees and kiss the ring of the billionaire, they had all kinds of money spent trying to primary them and get them into a runoff, get them removed from their office. I think it’s problematic. It’s almost like a Russian oligarchy situation where you have a billionaire who doesn’t even live here choosing who’s my leader because the guy didn’t kiss his ring. These guys were able to withstand that.
“A lot of conservatives will say ‘wait a minute, these guys support public schools and they support farm subsidies’ and I say wait a minute. What we have right now in Texas is we have 254 counties. We have 10-20 that are heavily suburban or heavily suburban Republican. The rest of the counties in Texas, well over 200, the largest employer in most of those counties are the public school systems. There’s been a very conservative movement for decades to have the local public school boards have more power and the state to have less power in how children are educated in their communities. That’s been a conservative effort. But now these guys come out say ‘well, we want to support school choice’ which I do as well, but then they loop that in with the voucher program where every Texan receives six to eight thousand dollars to decide where their kids go to school. That works for ten Texas counties, but does it work for the majority of the rural counties where there’s no charter school and no private school? No.
“It doesn’t work. All it does is take funds away from the entire public school system. If this happens it means that the State of Texas is going to have a small board of people who oversees all of that voucher money and it means that a small board of people in the Texas Capitol are going to be able to make sure that we’re spending the money correctly. So now all the sudden, people like me who homeschool, parents like me, are going to have the State of Texas dictating how I homeschool. It’s actually against the conservative cause and against the longstanding conservative movement. These guys stood up for their districts, didn’t kiss the ring of a billionaire, and the billionaire tried to take them out for it. They withstood that.
“We could go the same route when we talk about farm issues. It’s one thing when you take 10 or 20 Texas counties with the largest populations, the highest population density, and you say ‘we’re against government subsidies and we’re against government getting involved.’ Well, where were those people when Rick Perry’s ‘Miracle’ came and used government subsidies and tax breaks to get high-tech companies to move to Texas? They didn’t mind it then. In fact, most of those 10-20 counties, they’re the ones who benefited from it. They’re the ones where the jobs went. They didn’t mind tax incentives and government involvement to encourage business to do something and economic development when it was for THEIR paychecks. But now that the rest of Texas says ‘wait a minute, we need some economic development too,’ all the sudden that’s called socialism.
“That’s what the problem is. The problem isn’t that anyone is actually advocating for free markets, smaller government or government to be uninvolved. No, they want that government real well when it comes to THEIR paycheck. They want the government to encourage companies to pay their husbands more or their wives more in these suburban counties. But when it comes to the other 200 and however many counties in Texas and they say ‘wait, we need some governmental dollars too,’ all the sudden that’s called socialism and that’s not honest. That’s not intellectually honest or intellectually sound. It’s actually absurd.
“You’re going to have different needs in a rural area like the Panhandle, like in Lubbock, Texas, or West Texas. You’re going to have very different needs and policy needs than what you’re going to have in a suburban area outside of Dallas or outside of Houston. …
“Having policies that only benefit the ten counties with a lot of people isn’t fair to the most of Texas. That’s not Texas and that’s not representative. What you have is a situation where these Republicans in leadership in Texas, when it comes to the national argument, when some say ‘look at the electoral map and more Americans voted against Trump.’ [The Texas Republicans] will say ‘here’s a map of how many regions, how much space voted for Trump. You can’t let these two little regions in New York and California decide what all these communities in the U.S. need.’ That’s the argument for the Electoral College that Republicans argue. Then when they come back to Texas they say ‘we need policies that benefit our ten most populated counties, where the people are.’
“Wait a minute. You can’t do that. You can’t flip the argument. If that logic about the country is sound, then it should be sound for the state of Texas. So what we really have … you have a situation where these suburban or urban Republican leaders are dominating the show because they have more population like LA does or New York City does.
“They romanticize the rural Texan. They wear the hat, the boots, and the Wrangler jeans, but their policies actually strangle rural Texas communities with what they’re trying to do to public schools and what they’re trying to do to Ag policies. Somebody has to call it out. That’s the situation that we’re in right now.
“You can’t punish these politicians and these state [lawmakers] in the Panhandle for voting for their districts and voting for the people who elected them and what’s legitimately in their best interests. You can’t punish them and have a billionaire try to take them out simply because they didn’t kiss his ring. That’s what we had in the primary and I’m glad to say that Ken King and Kel Seliger and other folks withstood that.”
The full interview portion transcribed above can be heard here.
(Editor’s note: The Michael Quinn Sullivan mentioned in this article previously worked with Breitbart Texas.)