The Only Pro-Choice Republican in the Texas Legislature Just Won Her District Primary

“I will not be told by anyone in Austin whether I am a Republican.”

Deborah Cannon/AP

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

The only pro-choice Republican in the Texas legislature secured her party’s nomination in Tuesday night’s primary, despite fierce opposition from the state’s arch-conservative governor, Greg Abbott. 

Sarah Davis, the moderate GOP incumbent for Houston-area District 134 defeated Abbott’s favored candidate, Susanna Dokupil, in the race to become the Republican nominee.

“The people of this district sent a message to those in Austin that we reject the politics of personal destruction, of anything-goes deception, and of pitting Republican against Republican in the name of amassing personal power,” Davis said in a victory speech Tuesday evening.

She added, “For the record, I will not be told by anyone in Austin whether I am a Republican.”

While Davis’ victory might be a blow to Abbott’s agenda, it likely increases the odds that her district will remain under GOP control come November. Voters in the affluent, purple-ish district that Hillary Clinton won in 2016 may be willing to cast their ballots for a Republican—but only for the right Republican, Davis told Texas Monthly.

In the past months, Davis was endorsed by the Houston Chronicle and by outgoing state House Speaker Joe Straus, a Republican who is often identified as a moderate. When asked in an interview with the Texas Tribune whether Abbott would get her vote in the governor’s race, Davis said she would likely “just not vote.”

Davis will face off against Democratic candidate Allison Lami Sawyer in the general election this November.

Dokupil was assistant solicitor general when Abbott was Texas attorney general, and she’s a vocal supporter of Abbott’s agenda. She was supported by anti-abortion activists and Jonathan Stickland, a Republican state representative and member of the Texas Freedom Caucus, a group of deeply conservative state representatives.

As I wrote earlier this month, Davis and Abbott have clashed over legislative priorities over the course of Davis’ tenure in the House.

[Davis] pushed back against key parts of Abbott’s 2017 agenda, including his failed efforts to increase state funding of private schools and ban transgender people from using the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. Davis—along with the other two state representatives Abbott is trying to unseat, Wayne Faircloth of Galveston and Lyle Larson of San Antonio—also drew Abbott’s ire by siding against the governor in a fight over ethics reform. The three lawmakers backed unsuccessful legislation that would have barred governors from accepting hefty campaign donations from people who receive state appointments, a proposal that Abbott viewed as a slap in the face.

Abbott backed two other challengers to Republican incumbents, one of whom beat the incumbent, according to the Texas Tribune update on Tuesday night. 

In her acceptance speech, Davis said the state Republican party’s divisive leadership in Austin had to stop. 

“It’s time that our party ends purges and starts building bridges.”

AN IMPORTANT UPDATE

We’re falling behind our online fundraising goals and we can’t sustain coming up short on donations month after month. Perhaps you’ve heard? It is impossibly hard in the news business right now, with layoffs intensifying and fancy new startups and funding going kaput.

The crisis facing journalism and democracy isn’t going away anytime soon. And neither is Mother Jones, our readers, or our unique way of doing in-depth reporting that exists to bring about change.

Which is exactly why, despite the challenges we face, we just took a big gulp and joined forces with The Center for Investigative Reporting, a team of ace journalists who create the amazing podcast and public radio show Reveal.

If you can part with even just a few bucks, please help us pick up the pace of donations. We simply can’t afford to keep falling behind on our fundraising targets month after month.

Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery said it well to our team recently, and that team 100 percent includes readers like you who make it all possible: “This is a year to prove that we can pull off this merger, grow our audiences and impact, attract more funding and keep growing. More broadly, it’s a year when the very future of both journalism and democracy is on the line. We have to go for every important story, every reader/listener/viewer, and leave it all on the field. I’m very proud of all the hard work that’s gotten us to this moment, and confident that we can meet it.”

Let’s do this. If you can right now, please support Mother Jones and investigative journalism with an urgently needed donation today.

payment methods

AN IMPORTANT UPDATE

We’re falling behind our online fundraising goals and we can’t sustain coming up short on donations month after month. Perhaps you’ve heard? It is impossibly hard in the news business right now, with layoffs intensifying and fancy new startups and funding going kaput.

The crisis facing journalism and democracy isn’t going away anytime soon. And neither is Mother Jones, our readers, or our unique way of doing in-depth reporting that exists to bring about change.

Which is exactly why, despite the challenges we face, we just took a big gulp and joined forces with The Center for Investigative Reporting, a team of ace journalists who create the amazing podcast and public radio show Reveal.

If you can part with even just a few bucks, please help us pick up the pace of donations. We simply can’t afford to keep falling behind on our fundraising targets month after month.

Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery said it well to our team recently, and that team 100 percent includes readers like you who make it all possible: “This is a year to prove that we can pull off this merger, grow our audiences and impact, attract more funding and keep growing. More broadly, it’s a year when the very future of both journalism and democracy is on the line. We have to go for every important story, every reader/listener/viewer, and leave it all on the field. I’m very proud of all the hard work that’s gotten us to this moment, and confident that we can meet it.”

Let’s do this. If you can right now, please support Mother Jones and investigative journalism with an urgently needed donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate