EASTLAND, Texas—Freshman State Rep. Mike Lang of Granbury is hitting the campaign trail and reaching out to voters to gain their support and hopefully punch a return ticket to Austin. Lang is facing two candidates in the Republican primary.
As part of our “On the Trail Tour,” Texas Scorecard spent some time in House District 60 interviewing Lang and talking to everyday Texans about the upcoming Republican Primary election on March 6th and the issues most important to voters.
We caught up with Lang at Tommy Wimberly’s office in Breckenridge where he hosts a coffee every morning with an open invitation. More than a dozen men from across Stephens County were there along with Lang and a member of his campaign.
“We used to meet at McDonald’s, but had to find somewhere else when they started renovating,” said the local businessman. “I offered up this space at my business so we could keep meeting.”
“I’m not as pretty as the waitress over there, but I think we’ll get by okay,” he laughed as he poured more Folgers coffee into a Styrofoam cup for a rancher who arrived late.
In 2014, the Senior Times carried Wimberly on the front cover.
“He is opinionated and outspoken on everything from politics to public schools to economic development,” wrote author Carla McKeown. “When you combine that with his tendency to see the world in black and white, with few if any gray areas, there is little room for compromise in his world. An issue is either right or wrong in Wimberley’s book, and he’s likely to make his point of view on the topic known.”
In Wimberly’s book, Lang is the right guy to represent HD 60. And true to form he makes his opinion known.
“You need to be sure to vote for this guy,” he says to the rancher, gesturing with his thumb at Lang who gets up to shake the man’s hand.
“If Tommy Wimberly says you’re a good guy then you must be a good guy,” he replies.
Wimberly has good reason to believe Lang is worth sending back to the Texas House. A member of the Texas Freedom Caucus, Lang compiled a sterling record standing up for taxpayers and defending their liberties—earning a perfect 100 score on the Fiscal Responsibility Index and the distinction of “Taxpayer Champion.”
Lang’s record is especially impressive given that of his predecessor, liberal Republican State Rep. Jim Keffer of Eastland, who declined to seek re-election after Lang announced his campaign. Keffer currently works as a lobbyist in Austin and sits on the board of a think tank connected to George Soros.
And unlike most state legislators who seek to obfuscate and hide from their votes in Austin, Lang is proud of them.
“I am proud of my record in Austin,” Lang told the group. “The people of our district have made it very clear that they believe like I do. They believe in fiscal responsibility, the Second Amendment, a strong education system, better border security, lower taxes, and less regulation.”
“The fact is I can go to Austin and just be myself. I am bound by those core values and don’t intend on wavering,” he added.
Despite Lang’s strong record of defending taxpayers—or perhaps because of it—he’s drawn two opponents in the Republican primary, Granbury ISD Superintendent Jim Largent and Coleman County retiree Greg Risse.
While Risse has been largely absent from the campaign trail, Largent has organized an active campaign in the month since he entered the race. Refusing to resign from office after announcing, Largent has appeared to perform campaign activities during school hours and thus on the taxpayer dime—actions that may violate state law.
Largent and GISD employees have also so far refused to respond to open records requests from Texas Scorecard and Hood County taxpayers.
It’s for those reasons, and Largent’s dishonest campaign tactics, that the Hood County Republican Party advanced a “No Confidence” resolution at their executive committee meeting this week.
“We, the Republican Executive Committee of Hood County, voted in open session to withdraw any support for the candidacy of Dr. James Largent in the Republican Primary Race for Texas State House District 60. He has failed the basic test of commitment to the Republican Platform and openly advocates against a major plank of the platform. He has publicly disparaged honorable Republican State office holders who are upholding their commitment to the platform and the Republican voters. We also do hereby encourage Republican voters in Hood County to withdraw support for the primary candidacy of Dr. James Largent as well,” stated Hood County GOP Chair Jim Logan.
This article is part of Texas Scorecard’s “On the Trail Tour” series. To view more field reports on campaigns across the state of Texas, visit our website here.
Zach Maxwell contributed to this report.