Endorsement Regrets Watch: She’s not going to do that

I can’t. I just can’t.

Why do two West Texas oil billionaires — Christian nationalists waging war against secular public schools — care who becomes the next chief executive of Harris County, hundreds of miles from their homes? Why did a Houston real estate developer give $400,000, a staggering sum in a local campaign, to Republican county judge candidate Alexandra del Moral Mealer? Why did a furniture salesman, who became a celebrity by waving fistfuls of cash and promising to “Save! You! Money!” give $448,000 to Mealer in a single month? What — aside from earnest hopes of good governance — might these megadonors expect in exchange for their money? How much pressure will Mealer face to do their bidding if she wins?

These and other questions arise in reviewing Mealer’s latest campaign finance reports as she enters the home stretch of her bid to unseat one-term incumbent Democrat Lina Hidalgo. As the Chronicle’s Jasper Scherer reported, Mealer has raised $8.6 million since July 1, including $3.7 million in the past month alone. (By comparison, in the 2018 election, then-incumbent Republican Ed Emmett raised $446,000 from July through October). Mealer’s fundraising and spending in this cycle dwarfed that of incumbent Democrat Lina Hidalgo, who has raised $2.4 million since July 1, including $911,000 from Sept. 30 to Oct. 29.

One item that leaps out from Mealer’s reports is the pair of $100,000 donations from the Defend Texas Liberty Political Action Committee. This PAC is funded almost entirely by Tim Dunn and Farris Wilks, who made their fortunes in oil exploration and fracking and have donated lavishly to far-right candidates for the Texas Legislature and statewide offices. Among other notable gifts: Houston home builder Richard Weekley gave Mealer $400,000, the largest single donation in the July-through-September reporting period. Furniture salesman and philanthropist Jim “Mattress Mac” McIngvale and his wife, Linda, have given more than $600,000 to Mealer. McIngvale often appears in television ads with Mealer and was one of her earliest supporters.

On its face, the donation from the Defend Texas Liberty PAC is puzzling. The Harris County judge has no authority over the causes that have animated Dunn and Wilks: promoting vouchers that would provide state funding for private or religious school fees, outlawing abortion and resisting expanded recognition and rights for LGBTQ Texans. Yet they saw fit to give her as much money as they gave to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a key Republican ally in their right-wing culture wars. A review of the Defend Texas Liberty PAC’s donations, compiled by the nonprofit Transparency USA, shows at least one other donation to a local candidate: $13,000 in 2021 to Mary Bone’s successful campaign for the school board in Round Rock, near Austin.


Mealer should return the money she received from the Defend Texas Liberty PAC, if only to signal her commitment to restoring good governance unbeholden to special interests and menacing, unholy alliances.

Short of that, well-intentioned voters are left to simply cross their fingers and hope that the candidates they support will demonstrate allegiance to the people they represent, not to the donors who helped get them elected. This board, which made the tough decision to recommend Mealer for the position, expects no less from her. If she prevails over Hidalgo, we urge her to resist any urge to repay donors such as Richard Weekley for their generosity, and to politely ignore the wishes of Farris Wilks, Tim Dunn, and other, like-minded donors — even if it means losing their support in any future campaigns.

She’s not going to do that. She’s delighted to collect their money and will give them her full attention if elected. She is laughing up her sleeve at how she put one over on those naive idiots at the MSM rag. The only correct words to say here were “We’re very sorry, Judge Hidalgo. We retract our endorsement of your opponent and endorse you instead.” I’m not surprised they don’t have the courage to do that. As with the last time, I will stop here before I say something I will later regret. But you own this, Chronicle editorial board. You own this.

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4 Responses to Endorsement Regrets Watch: She’s not going to do that

  1. Jonathan Freeman says:

    It’s a consolation that none of the experts can come up with any material ways Mealer can reward or do any bidding for these megadonors. Yet Judge Hidalgo’s own attack ads fall short since she isn’t able to draw the lines either. The lowest common denominator argument is that the donations were sort of a size comparison contest, Lina raising 5X what Emmett raised in a similar time period not lost on me either. It won’t change my vote but I’d rather our county judge focus efforts on more tangible issues.

  2. J says:

    That’s a really easy answer. The developers worked closely with the county on new flood control regulations after Hurricane Harvey. When the county adopted those standards, the developers sent a letter endorsing them.

    When the Democrats came in, they adopted tougher restrictions on detention. The developers fought those.

    Dick Weekly could easily make back his investment in Mealer with one subdivision built under the Republican standards. And you and I would be at greater risk of flooding because of it.

    There’s a lot of examples of this – should public flood control dollars be spent in neighborhoods currently at risk of flooding? Or should they be spent in undeveloped areas targeted for future development? If it’s the latter, then developers don’t have to pay for the offsetting detention requirements and they effectively get a subsidy at the expense of at risk neighborhoods. I think it would be better to require a developer to mitigate the flood risk they cause, but that’s a question that the Houston Chronicle believes is best answered by Alex Mealer.

    As to Wilks and Dunn – if Republicans win the Judge race, they flip the chair of the Election Commission. If they flip the county, they can control investments made into the administration of elections. Is it better for the county to proactively register voters, double the number of early voting locations, allow you to vote anywhere on election day, and vote until 10 pm tonight? The Wilks guys and Dunn don’t think so, and they can have a direct impact on limiting the ability to vote in Harris County by flipping control of the county.

  3. mollusk says:

    Weekley (and other production builders and developers) certainly have an interest in the County Judge position. Whoever holds that office has a direct impact on their bottom lines, via the flood control district’s oversight of their projects and setting property taxes, to name just a couple.

    Plus all of those named above just like to own the libs.

  4. Manny says:

    It is no longer the Republican Party it is the Trump Party; you keep believing what you want, Freeman.

    What experts have stated that the Trump-loving, Democracy-hating Mealer, cannot reward those mega-donors?

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