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The big winner in Tuesday’s primaries? Gov. Abbott and his school voucher push

Gov. Greg Abbott has announced a $10 million campaign targeting the fentanyl crisis in Texas.
Gabriel C. Pérez
KUT News
As of Wednesday morning, five of the anti-school voucher Republicans who Gov. Greg Abbott went against lost their primaries.

Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to go after the lawmakers who voted against his school voucher plan seems to have paid off Tuesday.

Abbott endorsed the primary opponents of Texas Republican House incumbents who voted against his proposal last year to allow taxpayer dollars to pay for private school tuition of students.

As of Wednesday morning, five of the anti-school voucher Republicans who Abbott went against lost their primaries.

Four of the anti-school voucher Republicans are headed to a runoff.

“Republican primary voters have once again sent an unmistakable message that parents deserve the freedom to choose the best education pathway for their child,” Abbott said in a statement Tuesday.

He vowed to continue supporting Republican candidates who want “school choice” in the state.

Winner of the night

Tuesday’s results show that Abbott’s endorsements — and financial support — can actually boost a campaign.

The Republican incumbents defeated Tuesday voted against Abbott’s school voucher plan and have been in the Texas Legislature for years.

For example, three-term Rep. Steve Allison, R-San Antonio, lost to Marc LaHood, the candidate endorsed by Abbott.

Allison has been steadfast in his opposition to vouchers.

In an interview with Texas Public Radio Tuesday, Allison said he doesn’t regret his vote.

“I have a long history of being opposed to private school vouchers,” Allison said. “It's devastating to public education that we have a constitutional requirement to provide.”

Allison noted that the Republicans who oppose vouchers have championed many of Abbott’s initiatives, such as the border security program Operation Lone Star.

Abbott’s opposition “makes no sense,” Allison said.

One step closer

Abbott’s victories mean that school vouchers could become a reality in Texas in 2025, when the Legislature reconvenes.

And that’s something “school choice” organizations across the state and country are looking forward to.

Gillum Ferguson, the director of political strategy at the American Federation for Children, said on X, formerly Twitter, that Tuesday’s results can also impact elections across the country.

“Legislators in other states thinking about blocking school choice should take notice: oppose the voters at your own professional peril,” Ferguson said.

Texas Public Radio’s Camille Phillips contributed to this report.

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is the former Texas Capitol reporter for The Texas Newsroom.
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