Repub­li­can ex-law­maker is lat­est to back a Demo­crat

‘Ex­tra­or­di­nary times call for ex­tra­or­di­nary mea­sures,’ Ratliff says

The Dallas Morning News - - State - By JAMES BARRAGAN Austin Bureau jbar­ra­gan@dal­las­news.com Twit­ter: @James_Bar­ra­gan

AUSTIN — In what has be­come a trend, Ben­nett Ratliff, a Repub­li­can who pre­ceded Matt Ri­naldi as state rep­re­sen­ta­tive for House District 115 in Dal­las County, on Fri­day en­dorsed Ri­naldi’s Demo­cratic op­po­nent, Julie John­son, in the Nov. 6 elec­tion.

Ratliff joins other Texas Repub­li­cans, in­clud­ing for­mer Land Com­mis­sioner Jerry Pat­ter­son, who have come out in sup­port of Democrats in Novem­ber.

In a mes­sage to sup­port­ers on Fri­day, Ratliff wrote: “As a life­long Repub­li­can, I have sup­ported and worked for Repub­li­can can­di­dates since be­fore I was able to vote, I have voted Repub­li­can since I was able and served as a Repub­li­can elected of­fi­cial. I have sup­ported the party, our nom­i­nees, and I have never en­dorsed a Demo­crat for of­fice. But ex­tra­or­di­nary times call for ex­tra­or­di­nary mea­sures.”

Ratliff rep­re­sented House District 115, which cov­ers Irv­ing, Cop­pell, Carrollton, Farm­ers Branch and Ad­di­son, in 2013 af­ter de­feat­ing Ri­naldi in the 2012 Repub­li­can pri­mary. Ri­naldi then won the seat from Ratliff in a re­match in 2014 and beat back an­other chal­lenge from Ratliff in 2016 be­fore nar­rowly de­feat­ing his Demo­cratic op­po­nent that Novem­ber.

Ratliff said that the up­com­ing leg­isla­tive ses­sion will be a crit­i­cal mo­ment for Texas pub­lic schools and that Ri­naldi is “in the pocket of a small From Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz on down, learn more about Texas’ hottest con­tests for the Novem­ber midterms. in­ter­ac­tives.dal­las­news .com

group of wealthy donors” and has failed to fight for school­child­ren and taxpayers.

“In ad­di­tion to his com­plete in­ef­fec­tive­ness and lack of deco­rum in of­fice, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ri­naldi voted 10 times against leg­is­la­tion to re­form our school fi­nance sys­tem, leg­is­la­tion that would have helped pub­lic schools and pro­vided lo­cal tax re­lief,” Ratliff said. “As a re­sult, I be­lieve it’s time we change our rep­re­sen­ta­tion, so we can re­fo­cus the pri­or­i­ties of our State Leg­is­la­ture.”

At the end of last ses­sion, Ri­naldi was in­volved in a shov­ing match and war of words that al­most es­ca­lated into a brawl on the House floor.

Ri­naldi called Ratliff’s claims false. He said that he is a “huge sup­porter” of pub­lic schools and that he voted to in­crease ed­u­ca­tion spend­ing and filed a bill to end the “Robin Hood” school fi­nance sys­tem that would let school districts keep their money in­stead of prop­erty-wealthy districts hav­ing to share their tax rev­enue with poorer districts.

“I think it’s been ap­par­ent to ev­ery­body over the past few years since the vot­ers chose me over him twice that Ben­nett Ratliff would en­dorse Bernie San­ders be­fore he would en­dorse me,” Ri­naldi said. “I just think it’s sad when bit­ter­ness over a past race in­jects its way into pol­i­tics like that. This is a per­sonal thing.”

In the Leg­is­la­ture, the staunchly con­ser­va­tive Ri­naldi has pushed through anti-abor­tion leg­is­la­tion and played a piv­otal role in tough­en­ing the sanc­tu­ary cities law passed last ses­sion. He wants to cut taxes and end reg­u­la­tions that he says limit busi­ness growth in the state.

He is a mem­ber of the House Free­dom Cau­cus, a group of about a dozen rep­re­sen­ta­tives whose goal is to push the cham­ber’s lead­er­ship to vote on is­sues that are most im­por­tant to the most con­ser­va­tive in the party’s base — but that are also usu­ally the most con­tro­ver­sial.

In his let­ter, Ratliff, a for­mer Cop­pell school board mem­ber, said he be­lieves John­son would be a good ad­vo­cate for Texas stu­dents and teach­ers and lo­cal taxpayers. Ri­naldi was not the only Repub­li­can to be snubbed by a pre­de­ces­sor on Fri­day. For­mer Texas Land Com­mis­sioner Jerry Pat­ter­son and three other for­mer Repub­li­can pri­mary chal­lengers said Fri­day morn­ing that they will not sup­port in­cum­bent Ge­orge P. Bush in his bid for re-elec­tion in Novem­ber. Pat­ter­son said he will vote for Demo­cratic chal­lenger Miguel Suazo.

Also, Lt. Gov. Dan Pa­trick’s op­po­nent in the Repub­li­can pri­mary, Scott Milder, has said he will vote for the Demo­cratic chal­lenger, Mike Col­lier, in Novem­ber.

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