“Our Freedom Caucus rolled over and played dead. Then got up, wagged their tail, and acted like it was a victory,” wrote NE Tarrant Tea Party leader Julie McCarty in an open letter to the caucus. “For those of us in the trenches daily, it was horrifying and disheartening.” McCarty was referring to the House’s unanimous approval of the budget, which has been criticized by conservative groups.

“Perhaps this is something of a kumbaya session due to having a new speaker, but that doesn’t mean we all suddenly have nothing to say and no opinions,” McCarty wrote. “Rather than the Freedom Caucus being a force to reckon with, it has become a force to silence us.” Her letter was published in the Texas Scorecard, the online publication of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility/Empower Texans.

“Conservatives are deluding themselves to feel anything other than disappointed,” said Clay Cheshire, vice president of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility in a blog post published after the 149-0 vote. He called the budget debate a “slow-walked surrender by conservative lawmakers.”

Since 2007, conservative groups have mostly taken aim at “establishment” Republicans and lieutenants of former Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio). This is the first significant sign of their discontent following the election of Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton), and it will be interesting to watch how this impacts the March primary.

CD7: Houston homebuilder Wesley Hunt announced he would challenge U.S. Rep. Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (D-Houston) as a Republican and established a campaign committee for the race. The conservative online publication The Daily Caller reported that U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) “helped recruit Hunt” and supports his candidacy.

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