How Interest Groups Influence Texas Government


Electioneering is what groups do to influence who the policymakers will be. While federal law has strict limits on the amount of money that can be raised and contributed in federal races, Texas law permits groups to form political action committees that can receive and donate unlimited amounts of money to state   and local election campaigns (Note: Home rule cities in Texas can limit contributions to candidates for city positions by ordinance).

The Texas Association of Realtors PAC raised nearly 2 million dollars during the 2018 election cycle, donating $1.2 million to candidates. Texans for Lawsuit Reform, a group that advocates for civil justice reform, donated $1.3 million, spread over 100 dierent candidates.

PACs in Texas have dierent approaches to political involvement. Many interest groups follow – ocially or unocially – the friendly incumbent rule. They avoid backing challengers to incumbent legislators – even when those challengers might be more in line with their group’s interests.


Because challengers rarely win, and many groups fear retaliation from a spurned incumbent legislator more than they value the chance – often a long shot – to replace that incumbent with a more supportive candidate.

Whatever an interest group chooses to do in an election, the election is  eventually over, and a winner is sworn into oce whether the group supported or opposed him. That’s when electioneering gives way to lobbying.