Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van) has been challenged three times in the primary since winning an open-seat race in 2002. He defeated Chuck Tull of Edgewood, 73%-27%, in 2006. He defeated Link Linkenauger of Greenville, 65%-35%, in 2010 and George Alexander of Greenville, 60%-40%, in 2012. In the last two races, at least one group thought the incumbent was too conservative. The Texas Parent PAC, a public education advocacy group that typically supports Democrats and centrist Republican candidates, was one of the biggest donors to both of Flynn’s challengers.

Rep. Dan Flynn

Rep. Dan Flynn

Bryan Slaton

Bryan Slaton

After being unopposed in 2014, Flynn now faces Royse City financial services provider and former youth minister Bryan Slaton, who characterizes Flynn as too liberal.

Ironically, educator groups that may have been inclined to oppose Flynn in the past are likely to support him this year. The Texas Home School Coalition and Empower Texans are among Slaton’s endorsers. Both groups support policies, such as vouchers, that educator groups typically oppose. According to Flynn’s web site, the Texas State Teachers Assoc. has endorsed him.

However, some of Flynn’s supporters in years past are now backing Slaton (Flynn has been criticized for sending a mail piece citing their past support when their current allegiances were elsewhere.). One was Texas Eagle Forum’s Cathie Adams, who endorsed Slaton in January. She had previously supported Flynn, who she said used to “vote more conservatively.” She said she supported Flynn until he “chose to serve the Austin establishment, rather than his constituents.” Texans for Fiscal Responsibility/Empower Texans also switched to Slaton. The group previously endorsed Flynn for his prior two primary races. Likewise, the Texas Home School Coalition has switched to Slaton after endorsing Flynn for his 2012 race. Texas Right to Life endorsed Slaton this year after endorsing Flynn in 2012.

Distribution of 2012 Primary Vote

  • Hunt Co. 48% 48%
  • Van Zandt Co. 38% 38%
  • Hopkins Co. 14% 14%

Distribution of 2014 Primary Vote

  • Hunt Co. 46% 46%
  • Van Zandt Co. 36% 36%
  • Hopkins Co. 18% 18%

The district has not been as favorable to Tea Party challengers as one might expect, even in runoff elections. HD2 voters favored Sen. Bob Deuell (R-Greenville) head-to-head over challenger Bob Hall, 59%-41%, in the 2014 primary, and still favored Deuell, 53%-47%, in the runoff. Hall won Van Zandt Co., his home county, with 55% and 71% of the vote, respectively. In the 2012 primary for U.S. Senate, the district preferred David Dewhurst to Ted Cruz head-to-head, 65%-35%, and Dewhurst carried the district, 52%-48%, in the runoff.

Flynn had a nearly $60K cash on hand advantage as of January 21. However, Slaton out-raised Flynn, $42K to $10K, during the first three weeks of 2016, largely because of conservative groups opposed to Speaker Joe Straus and some of their largest donors. Collectively, they have contributed $85K, almost 75% of Slaton’s total campaign contributions, to date. We expect his 8-day-out report to show even more contributions from anti-Straus factions.

Rep. Dan Flynn

$108,083 – Cash on Hand

$9,904 – Contributions (1/1-1/21)
$26,670 – Expenditures (1/1-1/21)

$158,853 – Total Contributions (2015-16)
$197,939 – Total Expenditures (2015-16)

$0 – Loan Principal

Geographic Sources of Contributions

$58,477 – Austin (37%)
$38,100 – Dallas (24%)
$19,050 – Houston (12%)
$3,785 – San Antonio (2%)
$2,670 – Greenville (2%)

$17,290 – Other Texas cities (11%)
$19,441 – Outside Texas (12%)

Type of Contributor

$30,985 – Individuals (20%)
$127,828 – PACs and other entities (80%)

$157,136 – Cash (99%)
$1,677 – In Kind (1%)

District Zip Codes

$7,220 – Donors in district zip codes (5%)
$151,593 – Donors outside district (95%)

43 donors within district giving $1K or less

Top Contributors

$20,000 – Texas Cornerstone Credit Union PAC

$13,000 – Texas Consumer Lenders PAC

$10,000 – Texas Assoc. of Realtors TREPAC

$7,044 – Blackridge

$6,000 – Texans for Secure Retirement PAC

$5,000 – Rod Aycox

$3,500 – Locke Lord LLP

$3,000 – USAA PAC, Tracy Young

$2,500 – James & Shirley Dannenbaum, Houston Fire Fighters PAC, Kickapoo Tribe, Texas Land Title Assoc. PAC

$2,044 – HillCo PAC

$2,000 – Atmos Energy PAC, Centerpoint Energy PAC, Houston Police Retired Officers Assoc. PAC, Independent Bankers Assoc. of Texas PAC, Texas Assoc. of Builders HOMEPAC, Winstead PC PAC

Bryan Slaton

$46,657 – Cash on Hand

$41,568 – Contributions (1/1-1/21)
$33,807 – Expenditures (1/1-1/21)

$115,851 – Total Contributions (2015-16)
$65,143 – Total Expenditures (2015-16)

$0 – Loan Principal

Geographic Sources of Contributions

$51,777 – Austin (45%)
$12,075 – Houston (10%)
$5,550 – Odessa (5%)
$5,292 – Midland (5%)
$5,275 – Dallas (5%)

$35,427 – Other Texas cities (31%)
$335 – Outside Texas (<1%)

Type of Contributor

$55,750 – Individuals (48%)
$59,981 – PACs and other entities (52%)

$115,731 – Cash (100%)
$0 – In Kind (0%)

District Zip Codes

$8,286 – Donors in district zip codes (7%)
$107,445 – Donors outside district (93%)

48 donors within district giving $1K or less

Top Contributors

$42,300 – Empower Texans PAC

$12,000 – Windi Grimes

$9,769 – Constituent Focus PAC

$5,000 – Monty Bennett, Kyle Stallings, Mitchell Warren

$3,500 – Dick Saulsbury

$3,000 – Mike Olcott, Rep. Jonathan Stickland

$2,246 – NE Tarrant Tea Party PAC

$2,068 – Nathan Derr

$2,000 – C.R. Saulsbury Sr.

Boldface indicates donor is highlighted in our analysis of conservative groups and donors’ contributions to anti-Straus candidates.

Compared to Flynn’s recent primary opponents, Slaton has obtained the lowest amount and smallest proportion of his contributions from district zip codes. However, Slaton has raised $1,066 more from district donors than Flynn, who received less than 5% of his contributions from district zip codes. This is slightly below his 2010 race (5%) and less than half of his 2012 race (11%). Neither candidate has more than 50 district-based donors giving less than $1K, but Slaton has five more than Flynn (48-43).

Percent of Contributions from District Zip Codes


Link Linkenauger


George Alexander


Bryan Slaton

Flynn’s web site lists several local endorsements, including Greenville Mayor David Dreiling, Royse City Mayor Janet Nicol and the Greenville and Sulphur Springs Professional Firefighters Assocs. Slaton’s web site lists testimonials related to his ministry, but it is unclear if any of those individuals are district residents.

Slaton has been touting the endorsement of University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall, who Slaton and anti-Straus groups consider a hero for his quest to bring light to potential favoritism in university admissions. In a recent email blast, Slaton invited supporters to meet “the Man Dan Flynn Voted to Impeach!” It goes on to accuse Flynn of leading “the cover-up of the special favors being handed out” in the UT admissions process.

Flynn countered that he never voted to impeach Hall and took exception to Slaton’s characterization of the events – “Another lie,” Flynn said. – in a pair of Twitter back-and-forths with Empower Texans’ Michael Quinn Sullivan.

Flynn tweet of Slaton email

Flynn tweet exchange with Sullivan

Several days later:

Second Flynn tweet exchange with Sullivan

Flynn co-chaired the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations with Rep. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston). The panel voted, 6-1, to censure Hall in August 2014. Two years earlier, the committee voted, 7-1, that grounds existed for impeaching Hall. Formal impeachment charges have not been brought before the full House.

Whether Slaton’s crusade “against the establishment in Austin” succeeds will depend on whether enough voters are ready to trade Flynn’s experience for Slaton’s “bold and brave Christian-Conservative” principles and the degree to which Slaton connects to the voters. The candidates are not far apart on issues. The list of issues on Slaton’s web site is fairly generic and could easily appear on the sites of most Republican legislative candidates, including Flynn’s. The chief difference appears to be Flynn’s support of Speaker Straus.

Neither candidate has been a strong fundraiser among district residents, although Slaton holds a slight advantage in contributions and district-based small donors. Slaton has already received more contributions ($116K) than either of Flynn’s other two primary opponents ($66K and $86K) with likely much more on the way. Slaton’s social media indicate he has participated in candidate forums, including some to which Flynn has sent a representative.

Historically, Van Zandt Co. has been the friendliest to Tea Party challengers and candidates, and it may be key to Slaton’s success in this race. It represents about 36% of the overall HD2 primary vote. Dan Patrick and Bob Hall ran strongest here in 2014. It is also Flynn’s home county. He took 68% of the vote in the 2012 primary and 77% in the 2010 primary there. Slaton would need to make up about 2,000 votes elsewhere should Flynn match his historical performances in his home county. In that case, Slaton would need to win 63% of the vote in Hunt Co., where Flynn got 54% in 2012 against a Hunt Co.-based candidate, and draw even in Hopkins Co., where Flynn got 58% in 2012. That’s a tall order unless the challenger can rally the Tea Party faithful and draw closer to even, or even prevail, in Van Zandt Co.