BELTON, Texas—A liberal lawmaker is facing an assault on two fronts after voting against taxpayers in Austin and is in for a serious fight to keep his seat in the Texas House.
After serving in the Texas Legislature for a brief stint in the 80’s, State Rep. Hugh Shine (R–Temple), returned to office in 2016 when he narrowly defeated freshman State Rep. Molly White (R–Belton).
Though he campaigned as a conservative lawmaker that “gets results”, Shine often voted against taxpayers while he was in Austin—siding with Democrats to thwart Republican efforts to reform property taxes, limit state spending, and end wasteful government programs.
Shine also immediately sold out to House Speaker Joe Straus—serving as a cog in his liberal machine, specifically as an effective errand boy for Democrat State Rep. Rene Olivieira of Brownsville. During the session, Shine moved to fast-track a bill to raise the minimum wage through the committee process on his behalf.
Unsurprisingly, Shine’s decisions led him to earn a remarkably low 37 on the Fiscal Responsibility Index, barely above the highest-scoring Democrat. They also led to something that could be a “kiss of death” in a Republican primary, an endorsement from Straus.
Challenging Shine in the March Republican Primary election are two individuals, Temple Pastor Brandon Hall, and CJ Grisham, a longtime activist, US Army veteran, and founder of Open Carry Texas.
Hall has been endorsed by Texas Right to Life and Grisham has been endorsed by both Texans for Fiscal Responsibility and State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R–Bedford).
As part of our “On the Trail Tour,” Texas Scorecard spent some time in House District 55 speaking with Grisham and grassroots activists on the ground as he seeks campaigns against the liberal Republican in a race that could likely be decided in a runoff.
Grisham said he was running to fight against the special interests in Austin that had waylaid so many reform efforts in the Texas House.
“Liberal House Speaker Straus and Hugh Shine were joined at the hip this session and he was a reliable vote for to kill Abbott’s conservative agenda,” said Grisham. “Shine’s endorsement from Straus should speak volumes about his record in Austin.”
A known commodity in the district and around the state due to his Second Amendment advocacy, Grisham hasn’t taken anything for granted, working a grassroots campaign since day one. According to community leaders, Grisham has been working hard as a candidate and has hosted volunteer block walking parties every Saturday, knocking on thousands of doors in a district that usually features low turnout.
While out knocking on doors, Grisham says he touts his record leadership in his community, his deep ties to the district, and his never-ending commitment to conservative values – not only in the military, but also as a citizen activist.
Though Grisham has a long road ahead of him when it comes to securing electoral success, he is building a base that could pay dividends should he and Brandon Hall be able to force a runoff election. For more than two decades no incumbent Texas lawmaker has survived a runoff election regardless of their initial margin of victory.
This article is part of Texas Scorecard’s “On the Trail Tour” series. To view more field reports on campaigns across the stat of Texas, visit our website here.
Cary Cheshire contributed to this report.

Zach Maxwell

Zach Maxwell is a contributor to Texas Scorecard and leads the Texas Torchbearers. Raised in Cisco, he has worked in various positions in the legislature and on campaigns.

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