CORSICANA, Texas— Though he fell short of victory in 2016, Thomas McNutt is taking another bite at the apple in his campaign to represent House District 8 in the Texas House.
Originally set up for a rematch against House Speaker Joe Straus’ hatchetman, State Rep. Byron Cook (R—Corsicana), the longtime lawmaker’s decision to “retire” along with Straus has made the election an open seat fight between McNutt, a conservative activist and businessman whose family owns and operates the Collin Street Bakery, and two other candidates—Palestine realtor Cody Harris and Navarro College Dean Linda Timmerman.
McNutt burst onto the scene in 2016 when he challenged Cook in the Republican primary and came exceedingly close to unseating the lawmaker—falling short by less than one percent despite being massively outspent and with rampant vote irregularities in one of the district’s four counties. But that loss, McNutt says, showed him what works, what doesn’t work, and will be the basis for this year’s victory.
“Last time we didn’t know what we were doing and we learned so much along the way,” said McNutt. “This time we started off with a plan we just had to execute and every time we invest in any activity we’re getting triple the return.”
McNutt has indeed been getting a massive return at least on the fundraising side—ending the month of January with $300,000 cash on hand—more than double both of his opponents combined.
He’s also substantially bolstered his campaign personnel by hiring additional staff and bringing in dedicated volunteers and is running an even more aggressive voter engagement strategy.
“People think campaigns are about strategy and political maneuvering, heck that’s what I thought before I ran last time. But they’re about knocking on doors, raising money, and working your tail off. We’re just trying to do more of that than both of our opponents put together by March,” said McNutt.
With an army of volunteers and significant advantages on paper, McNutt is the candidate favored to win the race. However, as the races last election proved, no race can be taken for granted.
A Republican-leaning district, the March 6th Republican Primary will likely decide who represents House District 8 in the Texas House, though there is a significant chance the race goes to a runoff and is decided in May.
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.
Cary Cheshire contributed to this report. He served as McNutt’s campaign manager in his race against Byron Cook.

Cary Cheshire

Cary Cheshire is the Vice President of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility. A 6th Generation Texan, Cary attended Texas A&M University was active in a number of conservative causes including Ted Cruz's Senate campaign. He has also worked on campaigns to elect conservatives to Congress and the Texas Legislature. Cary enjoys college football, genealogy research, and the occasional craft beer.

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