This November, McLennan County voters will choose between two options to replace outgoing District Attorney Abel Reyna, a Republican.
Reyna – who lost the Republican primary in March – has faced widespread criticism for his handling of the Twin Peaks shootout in 2015. Waco native and longtime Dallas lawyer Barry Johnson will take Reyna’s place as the Republican nominee.
What makes this race interesting goes beyond Reyna’s ouster, though. In November, Johnson will not be facing a Democrat. Instead, he’ll go up against a self-proclaimed conservative Independent.
Daniel Hare, the Director of Career Development – Employer Relations at Baylor Law School, is a self-described Independent hoping to give Johnson a run for his money in the McLennan County DA’s race. A graduate of Baylor Law School, Hare is hoping his status as a conservative can help him connect to the values of conservative Republican voters, by far the largest voting bloc in the county. Meanwhile his being Independent will allow him to capture the votes of moderate independents and low-information Democrats unaware of his conservative views.
Johnson, by far the favorite to win in November, is likely hoping his 28 years of experience as an attorney and blowout victory in March helps him ride McLennan County’s strong Republican bent to the District Attorney’s office.
Although both candidates are running as conservatives, Johnson is likely far more palatable to McLennan County voters. Hare has said he is not pleased with the current direction of the Republican Party and could not bring himself to vote for Donald Trump, opting instead to write in Ohio Governor John Kasich. These comments may backfire in a county where President Trump captured 61.7% of the vote.
This is sure to be an interesting race and one that should certainly be on voters’ radar going into the 2018 midterm elections. No matter who wins in November, the victor will be a conservative. The question is, will McLennan County’s conservative voters remain a reliable voting bloc for the GOP or are they interested in considering an independent candidate in the mold of John Kasich?