Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday urged Republican voters to replace State Rep. Wayne Faircloth in March’s primary election and released a video endorsing Faircloth’s challenger, Chambers County oilman Mayes Middleton.

Abbott released the video on his Facebook page Tuesday morning.

“During the next legislative session, we have the opportunity to make Texas even better,” Abbott said. “We need real leaders who will work with me to advance a conservative agenda that will benefit every Texan across our great state.”

Abbott called Middleton a “successful entrepreneur” and a “principled conservative.” He did not mention Faircloth in the video.

“I know that he will fight along my side to lower your property taxes,” Abbott said.

Both Middleton and Faircloth said the endorsement was a surprise — though Galveston residents began receiving campaign mailers featuring a photo of Abbott and Middleton together on Tuesday.

“It’s really exciting,” Middleton said. He said the endorsement comes because of a “failure of leadership and a failure of conservatives principles” on Faircloth’s part.

“The governor knows that I will fight for his agenda,” Middleton said. “I will fight to put it into action regardless of who’s in the way.”

The endorsement is a blow to Faircloth’s campaign. The two-term incumbent is facing a challenge from Middleton, who has never served in public office.

Middleton has the backing of influential conservative political groups, including Empower Texans, a lobbying group that regularly supports some of the most conservative policies proposed in Austin. Middleton is a board member of the Empower Texans Foundation.

At last check, Middleton also maintained a large lead in campaign fundraising.

Faircloth, who operates an insurance agency in Dickinson, has been supported by outgoing Speaker of the House Joe Straus, a major dividing line among Texas Republicans in this year’s primaries.

Tuesday’s endorsement marks the second time Abbott has endorsed a challenger in a Republican primary this year. In November, he endorsed Susanna Dokupil, who is running against Houston-area Rep. Sarah Davis.

Davis was a vocal critic of Abbott during last year’s legislative session. Faircloth, in contrast, was more reserved and took few, if any, jabs at the governor and his preferred policies.

During last year’s special session, Faircloth voted for a version of Senate Bill 1, the session’s major property tax reform bill, that would have required voter approval of property tax increases.

Faircloth voted the same way as members of the House Freedom Caucus — who are among the most conservative members of the House — on that issue.

The property tax bill failed because the House and Senate versions of the bill differed on when a vote would be triggered, and the two houses could not reach a compromise. Faircloth did not object when the House of Representatives moved to adjourn with 27 work hours left in the session — while some House Freedom Caucus members did.

Middleton said Faircloth enabled the House to help kill the proposed changes to property taxes.

“I think you’ve got to lead in the fight,” he said. “Good things don’t happen by accident and you just don’t do the right thing when it’s easy.”

Faircloth did split from the governor on an issue regarding local tree ordinances.

Abbott had sought to stop cities from creating regulation of homeowners who wish to remove trees on their properties. That drew objections from environmentalists, including a group from Galveston, where protecting large trees has been a major focus in recent years. Faircloth sided with the local groups — arguing that communities knew better than the legislature what rules were best for them.

A stripped down version of the tree bill, which created a tree-planting credit to offset local fees, was passed during the special session. Faircloth voted for that proposal, and Abbott signed it into law.

The winner of the primary election between Faircloth and Middleton will go up against Galveston resident Amanda Jamrok, who is running as a Democrat.

The primary election is on March 6. Early voting begins on Feb. 20.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; or on Twitter @johnwferguson.


Senior Reporter

(16) comments

Walter Manuel

State Representative Wayne Faircloth is nothing more than a spineless, rubber stamp who will follow in anyone's footsteps so long as he feels it will eventually get him a vote.

Wayne Faircloth did absolutely nothing with regards to trying to save LMISD, but instead called upon the Texas Education Agency and supported the agency leaving the former failed LMISD board of trustees in their seats without ever doing his own homework in order to see exactly the damage that a group of individuals were allowed to get away with that eventually dissolved the school district forever.

After visiting with Mr. Mayes Middleton on multiple, I support Mayes 100% and feel that our area will be STRONGLY represented when he is elected into office.

It's way past time that Wayne Faircloth get back to selling his insurance full time and we have true leadership back in office who I believe will not accept nor support the status quo of politics.

Please join me in voting for Mr. Mayes Middleton for true conservative leadership!

Carol Dean

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] Mayes Middleton is exactly who we have been needing for a number of years!

Walter Manuel

Ooops! "After visiting with Mr. Mayes Middleton on multiple "occasions". [beam]

Diane Brodie

John Wayne Ferguson, you forgot to mention that at the request of mayor Yarborough and city manager Maxwell, Faircloth added an amendment to that tax bill exempting Galveston from the rollback vote for 3 years. He tried to make it 5. So on the whole Gulf coast Galveston wouldn't get to vote on increased taxes over 4% because of a natural disaster.

Gary Scoggin

Rep. Faircloth was a supporter of Joe Straus against the RINOs like Abbott and Patrick. I trust him to again be a voice independent of those two and stand up for adult leadership in Austin.

I’ve met Mr. Middleton and he seems a nice fellow but his platform is more of the same RINO Tea Party mentality that needs to go. It would be interesting to know where he’s getting his money. He comes from a rich family and, from how much he’s spending, it looks like he’s trying to buy his way in.

Kelly Naschke

RINO Tea Party? How is that possible? Seems like an oxymoron. Please explain Gary.

Gary Scoggin

For years Republicans have stood for limited but rational government, individual rights, quality education, and a strong economy. The tea partiers are more concerned with people in the wrong bathroom, keeping people unlike them out of the country, forcing their religion down everyone’s throat and ruining our public schools. These are not traditional Republican values. Ronald Reagan would be sad.

Carol Dean

Mr. Scoggin, that is a pretty short sighted comment. ("It looks like he's trying to buy his way in." Seems to me that Faircloth created his own private fund raiser in Austin with Straus as his key note speaker due to the fact that he claimed he had not been able to raise money in his own home county because of Hurricane Harvey. Mr. Middleton, on the other hand, donated $100,000 to the Harvey relief fund from his own personal funds.

Faircloth has yet to follow "the will of the people" he represents. You would be well served to have Mayes Middleton as your District 23 Representative in Austin.

Gary Scoggin

I think all your example proves is that Middleton is a rich guy, Faircloth isn't. I'd have donated $100k if I had inherited a fortune, too. But a middle class guy that started and ran his own business rarely has that kind of money to give.

Carol Dean

First of all, there are no truly conservative Republican voters who support Speaker Strauss, going to him to help raise money was Faircloth's mistake. One thing to be said for funding your own campaign is that it doesn't make it look like you are "beholding" to suspect donors. Faircloth has not been able to raise money because he has not been a good Representative. It certainly wasn't Galveston County who first got him elected.

Why don't you ask Mr. Faircloth why he has refused to participate with Mr. Middleton in an old fashioned public debate? I can assure you that it is because he knows that Mr. Middleton is a far more intelligent and learned individual then he is. Mr. Faircloth sure hasn't impressed the current Governor of the Great State of Texas!

Gary Scoggin

So, Carol, we should only support rich guys that can finance their own campaigns? Got it.

Carol Dean

No, Mr. Scoggins, we should support people who are not liars. We should support people who do not make fools out of themselves by attacking others in church. We should support people who do what they say they will. There are a lot of things that you do not know about Faircloth and his wife's public behavior currently and in the past.

JD Arnold

So, enlighten us Ms. Dean. Otherwise it's just political innuendo with no basis in fact.

Gary Scoggin

“No, Mr. Scoggins, we should support people who are not liars. ”. I agree. I assume that’s why you would join with me in not supporting President Trump.

Ray Taft

I contacted State Rep Faircloth several times concerning issues and he has consistently failed to respond. I even contacted him about his failure to respond, and he failed to respond to that too.

We do not need a representative who does not respond to constituents, regardless of his position on that constituent’s issue. A representative should be engaged with average citizens and it appears to me that Faircloth is not for whatever reason he may have.

Walter Manuel

Your absolutely right Mr. Taft!

I too attempted to contact Mr. Faircloth regarding what was happening to LMISD before he was ever privy to ALL of the FACTS regarding the very people that he was fighting for, but was never allowed by his staffers to speak to him.

Looks like not only Wayne Faircloth, but also his staffers who responded to me on several occasions with "blanketed" responses as to why State Representative Faircloth was "simply representing his constituents" further proves he needs to not only be doing his own homework, but also but was way out of touch with the other "constituents" that he was elected to represent.

I can assure you that when the Black Ministerial Alliance called, there was no problem getting through to Mr. Faircloth because of the hopes of getting their votes. [yawn]

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