It looks like the re-election battle facing veteran San Antonio Republican lawmaker Lyle Larson is turning out to be a referendum on House Speaker Joe Straus, who won't even be in the House for next year's session, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The Texas Monitor reports 'the Austin Lobby,' the informal name for mainstream Republican leaning organizations like the Texas Association of Business, is giving some $200,000 to twenty state lawmakers, mainly influential members and committee chairs, who are seen as allies of Straus.
Larson, with $69,000, is the second largest recipient of this largesse, the Monitor reports.
The donations come after several key conservative leaders, including Gov. Greg Abbott, endorsed Larson's Republican primary opponent, Hollywood Park Mayor Chris Fails.
"Now having gotten rid of Joe Straus as Speaker, they are going after members of his leadership team to try to make the Texas House more 'Tea Party conservative' like the Texas Senate under Dan Patrick is," Cal Jillson, a political analyst at SMU, told News Radio 1200 WOAI.
Many movement conservatives like Abbott and Patrick blame Straus and his allies for scuttling key social issues in the 2017 session, including restrictions on transgender bathroom use and measures which would have limited state employee union membership.
Larson has generational ties to Straus, dating back to when his father, a large animal veterinarian, treated Joe Straus Sr's championship race horses.
Abbott is also angry at Straus for introducing an 'ethics in government' bill that would have limited his ability to appoint campaign donors to key state boards, like the powerful A&M System and University of Texas System Boards of Regents.