The Republicans who represent a good chunk of the Texas Panhandle in the Texas House and Senate are facing ultra-right wing challengers in the upcoming GOP primary. Merely being a somewhat thoughtful conservative or even considering a Democratic proposal is a dangerous game to play in the Tea Party dominated Texas GOP. If you are unwilling to lick the boots of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, you might just find yourself back home wondering how you aren’t quite conservative enough. Senator Kel Selinger and Representatives Ken King (Lubbock) and Four Price (Amarillo) may be unseated in March. The Texas Observer has more on the far right movement to take down any such “Establishment Republicans.”
The challengers are generally following a playbook developed by Empower Texans, a right-wing enforcement group that targets what it considers establishment Republicans: claim that you are unequivocally conservative and that the other guy is basically a Democrat, all the while vilifying bipartisanship and accusing your opponent of being a big-government patsy who’s soft on abortion.
Far-right groups, including Texans for Vaccine Choice, Texas Right to Life and Grassroots America — We The People are working to knock off the incumbents. And while the Panhandle is one of the reddest parts of the whole country (Trump took 90 percent of the vote in some of the counties here), the area continues to elect Republicans with a pragmatic streak. For instance, King has sought to secure funding for struggling rural schools; Price has been a champion for mental health care; and Seliger refused to divert money from public schools for private school vouchers. Wielding accusations of perceived liberalism, challengers have made the region a battleground in the civil war raging within the Texas GOP.