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Hoping For Change At The Capitol, Businesses And Educators Aim To Boost Turnout In GOP Primaries

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick

From Texas Standard.

Texans don’t care about primary elections – at least if history is any indication. Single-digit turnouts are not uncommon in non-presidential election years. But there’s reason to think conventional wisdom could be turned on its head this March.

An unlikely coalition of business groups and educators are coming together to get out the vote, and they appear to have rattled allies of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

R.G. Ratcliffe, a reporter for Texas Monthly, says this coalition has decided the only way to have an impact is to push participation in the Republican primary.

“For more than a decade now, about 500,000 to 600,000 social conservatives have controlled the Republican primary of Texas and whoever gets the Republican nomination usually ends up winning the general election, at least statewide,” he says.

Now some Dan Patrick supporters are investigating whether public employees have violated any rules through their organizing efforts.

“There’s a group called Texas Educators Vote, which is essentially a get-out-the-vote effort,” he says. “It doesn’t support specific candidates. State Senator Paul Bettencourt has asked the Attorney General Ken Paxton to rule that their activities are illegal because they’re promoting specific ideas, such as ‘If you want to preserve the public schools and oppose vouchers, you need to get out and vote in the primary.’”

He says another group, the North Texas Commission, which is made up of businesses and chambers of commerce, is under scrutiny.

“One of its businesses that’s urging its employees to vote in the primary is Fidelity Investments, and they have 5,000 employees,” he says. “And they’re not telling them how to vote. But it’s obvious that probably in the corporate culture the idea is ‘We didn’t like the bathroom bill. The bathroom bill was bad for business in Texas. And all of our employees should think about going and voting.’”

Written by Jen Rice.

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