Prominent Texas Republicans say Lyle Larson, who earned the nickname of Bexar County's 'Mister Republican' during stints on City Council, Commissioners Court, and in the state Legislature over the past twenty years, is no longer sufficiently conservative for today's Texas Republican Party, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Former Gov. Rick Perry, who is now U.S. Secretary of Energy, has endorsed Larson's opponent in next month's Republican primary, Hollywood Park Mayor Chris Fails, saying Larson has broken with the movement conservatives who now dominate the Texas Legislature, especially on social issues like abortion and 'sanctuary cities.'
"Chris Fails is the only candidate in this race who will be a consistent voice for our values. I know more than most just how important it is to have principled legislators in office. Please send Chris to the Texas House so he can advance the conservative principles that make Texas great," Perry said in his endorsement.
Conservative leaders in the Legislature pointed out that Larson opposed a key provision of SB-4, the state law banning 'Sanctuary Cities.' He joined just a handful of other Republicans and every Democrat in the Legislature in opposing the provision, which is at the heart of the debate over whether San Antonio Police Chief Bill McManus broke the law when he allowed a dozen illegal immigrants to be released to immigrant advocate groups following a human smuggling arrest in December.
"Without the amendment, which strengthened the definition of 'Sanctuary City', (Lt Gov.) Dan Patrick would not have been able to ask our Attorney General to investigate San Antonio's sanctuary policies. Larson’s version of the bill would have kept San Antonio sanctuary policies protected from punishment," Perry said in a statement.
Analysts say Larson is also feeling the heat from his association with House Speaker Joe Straus, which goes back to when Larson's father was the veterinarian who took care of Straus' father's prized horses.
Now that Straus has decided not to seek re-election, many movement conservatives have mounted a major effort to make sure the House which is elected this fall and which will elect a Speaker next January is strongly conservative, and will elected a conservative Speaker.
Many movement conservatives blame Straus for killing hard-right priorities in the 2017 session, including the 'Bathroom Bill,' limits on public employee unionization, and restrictions on local tax increases.