Big money, famous names and Super PACs play in race for Texas’ 21st

Texas

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi will show up on your TV screen and in your mail ahead of the May 22 primary runoff for Texas’ 21st Congressional district — currently held by retiring Rep. Lamar Smith. 

National level Super PACs, or political action committees, are pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into a contested Republican race between Chip Roy and Matt McCall.

Club for Growth Action is on TV advocating for Roy, who’s the former chief of staff for Sen. Cruz.

The television adds and accompanying pieces of mail tie McCall to Pelosi, a loathed figure in Republican circles. 

According to FEC campaign reports, the group has spent more than $584,000 since the March primary where Roy and McCall beat 16 other candidates.

McCall calls the campaign materials “a bunch of rubbish… It’s straight up lies,” suggesting Pelosi should sue Club for Growth for defamation. 

“One has to ask, why does he need all of this money from outside the state, all of these endorsements from people, none of whom live here,” McCall told KXAN.

Club for Growth Action backed Sen. Cruz in his presidential run against Donald Trump.

McCall holds a grudge against Cruz for giving a “vote your conscience” speech at the Republican National Committee while not endorsing Trump at that time.

Cruz endorsed Trump after he committed to a list of conservative Supreme Court Justice candidates after he won the nomination. 

The senator has been campaigning for Roy over the past few weeks.

When asked, McCall said even if voters like Cruz, they shouldn’t vote for Roy.

“Ted hopefully will come to his senses and I look forward to working with him when I’m in the legislature,” said McCall. “You know, he needs to get back in his lane. He was wrong about the president and he’s wrong now.”

Cruz’s political team had no comment.

McCall is a Boerne businessman, who ran for this congressional seat — which spans from Austin down Interstate 35 to San Antonio and deep into the Hill Country — twice before against Lamar Smith.

In his campaign, he’s highlighted being pro-Trump, his pro-life stance and points to the fact that Roy does not live in the district. 

In an interview, Roy didn’t shy away from his connection to elected officials like Cruz, he’s actually emphasized it on the campaign. Roy also worked for former Gov. Rick Perry and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Roy says voters “see a candidate who has a very strong, proven, track record, who’s been in the trenches, fighting along conservatives they trust.”

When asked about the Club for Growth campaign material and ads, Roy did not make the same McCall-Pelosi comparison.

“I don’t think that’s a relevant conversation in respects to what I’m doing focusing on my campaign. What other groups are doing, staying outside, that’s what they’re doing,” said Roy. “I think some groups are focusing, I think rightly, on which candidate can win.”

When the Club for Growth endorsed Roy, their press release said he was “cut from the same cloth as Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, Chip is exactly the type of fiscal conservative Congress needs.”

Super PAC spending is common after the Supreme Court ruling Citizens United. On Thursday, another outside PAC just joined the race. National Horizon spent more than $100,000 against McCall according to FEC documents.

Roy’s campaign has spent more than $500,000 so far, according to the latest online data. McCall has spent more than $177,000.

There’s also a primary runoff on the Democratic side. Veteran and businessman Joseph Kopser is taking on Mary Wilson, a minister and math teacher.

Federal campaign data shows Kopser’s campaign has spent $966,000 so far. Wilson’s campaign has spent $88,000.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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