Cindy Burkett (R-Sunnyvale) officially announced that she is challenging Texas Right to Life endorsee and incumbent State Senator Bob Hall (R-Edgewood) in the 2018 Republican Primary Election. In an interview with the Dallas Morning News after her announcement, Burkett repeated the popular talking point used by establishment Republicans about being an “effective conservative.”
When first elected to the legislature in 2010, Burkett seemed promising as a conservative, including her then-stated commitment to protect all innocent human Life. However, as with many Texas House members, the siren call of the liberal House leadership (read: Joe Straus and his cronies) was too strong to resist. With each successive session of the legislature, Burkett’s affinity for House leadership has contributed to a downward policy spiral.
During this campaign cycle, Burkett is billing herself as a “conservative” and even taking credit for passing the Dismemberment Abortion Ban. The passage of the historic ban was spearheaded by Texas Right to Life and championed by State Representative Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth) and the Texas Freedom Caucus (a caucus of conservative House members shunned by Burkett). Burkett played a minor role, if even that.
Senator Bob Hall has earned a perfect 100% score from Texas Right to Life whereas Burkett, on the other hand, has achieved remarkably lower Pro-Life rankings: 89% in 2015 and only 72.58% in 2017. Even more shocking, Burkett spoke against protecting preborn children from abortions after five months development if they are diagnosed with disabilities. Burkett called this amendment “a step too far.” In other words, protecting literally the most vulnerable children is “a step too far.”
In 2015, Burkett co-authored a bill that would have expanded the authority of hospitals to withhold and deny life-sustaining treatment to patients who are disabled. HB 2351 would have empowered hospitals to discriminate against people because of their disability when ethics committees consider the removal of life-sustaining treatment. In fact, Senator Hall’s predecessor authored similar legislation in 2013, expanding the authority of hospital panels to withdraw life-sustaining treatment from patients despite the wishes of the patient or surrogate. Outrage over such draconian policy stances led to Senator Hall’s successful bid against the former incumbent senator for whom Burkett had worked.
In stark contrast to Burkett, Senator Hall vigorously defended the rights of vulnerable Texas patients. During debate on Texas Right to Life’s priority bill requiring patient consent prior to a Do-Not-Resuscitate order is written, Senator Hall noted, “A very serious situation in Texas [has] existed for a number of years with hospitals’ authorities to put DNRs in a patient’s file without their knowledge or permission and even against their wishes…the way (this bill) is set up, that the family does have meaningful participation, the patient has meaning participation…The patient and the family should be the final decision, the ultimate decision.”
Also in 2015, Burkett voted for several measures that would have silenced activists and advocacy organizations from scrutinizing elected officials. Burkett voted to require people who film at the capitol to gain the consent of the lawmakers being recorded; filmers without permission face a criminal penalty. Burkett also voted to require nonprofit organizations to disclose their donors to the government, establishing a target list for politicians who are on a witch-hunt for those who disagree with them.
What values Burkett claims to share with Senator Hall are unclear, but if this is what she means by being “effective,” Burkett has proven quite effective in compromising her values. On the other hand, Senator Hall has proven himself to be a steadfast advocate for Life, consistently achieving the highest scores from all of the reputable conservative organizations. Conservative voters of Senate District 2 should ask Burkett why she would want to challenge a senator who has been a champion for their values.