Four-term Republican State Rep. Lynn Stucky is facing two primary opponents who are challenging his record on supporting Texas GOP priorities.
Stucky has represented Texas House District 64 in Denton and Wise counties since 2017.
Challengers Andy Hopper and Elaine Hays took on Stucky at a candidate forum hosted by the Denton Republican Women’s Club.
The candidates were asked to tackle issues important to local GOP primary voters: protecting the border, appointing Democrat committee chairs, and impeaching Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Stucky opened by saying, “We have had a great session. We’ve had divisive sessions since I’ve been here but historically the most conservative sessions ever on record in this state.”
Hopper, who ran against Stucky in 2022 and lost by fewer than 100 votes, said that in 2023 House members put radical Democrats in charge of committees and passed the largest spending increase in Texas history.
“All of these things have been voted for by this representative, and we need new governance,” Hopper said. “I wish I didn’t have to run for this office, but unfortunately we don’t have conservative representation.”
Stucky has a career “F” rating on Texans for Fiscal Responsibility’s Fiscal Index and earned a 57 for his votes on fiscal issues during the regular 2023 legislative session.
Hays said people moving to the state based on its reputation for freedom ask her, “What the heck happened to Texas? You have vaccine mandates, you have children determining their gender, you have mask mandates, you have people coming across your border.”
“We have got to have bold leadership coming out of our state House, but it also has to be effective,” she said.
Candidates were asked to explain exactly what action Texas should take to secure the border—one of eight Republican Party of Texas legislative priorities for this session.
“I think no action should be off the table for the state of Texas,” said Hopper. “We never agreed to a union where the courts and the federal government basically tell us what we can do with our border.”
He recommended augmenting the size of Texas military forces and said the state needs a permanent Border Force like the one proposed by House Bill 20 that would have had operational control over the entire Texas border.
Hays said the border is the number one issue she hears about when visiting with citizens in the district. She said “too much of the dollars that we as Texans have been directing to our border are about processing people in our country and not deterrence.”
“For at least four years we have been standing back expecting the federal government to step in and we cannot wait for that any longer,” she added.
Stucky said the Biden administration has been “a total failure,” leaving the state to take over securing its southern border with Mexico.
“We have to have boots on the ground, barriers, and technology,” he said. “And we are starting to do that, but we need some help from the federal government.”
Stucky said the legislature just passed a law—Senate Bill 4 from the fourth special session—allowing Texas to return illegal border crossers to their country of origin. “So we’re doing a number of things, but we’ve got to have help from the federal government.”
Democrat Committee Chairs
Candidates were asked if they would oppose appointing Democrats to chair committees in the Republican-run Texas House, a longstanding practice that has continued under Speaker Dade Phelan. Banning Democrat committee chairs was another RPT legislative priority.
Hays said Texas is the only state in the country where the Republican majority appoints Democrats to chair committees.
“It is not an expectation for us as voters,” she said. “The number one responsibility of a representative is to vote your district. Our incumbent did not represent us the last couple of sessions and it is something that has to be changed.”
“We’re not looking for uniparty representation Austin,” Hays added. “We selected the Republican platform and we want people to represent us.”
Stucky responded, “I have voted my district and I have supported the Republican Party platform 100 percent, but you have have to play the cards that you are dealt.”
He said appointing Democrat committee chairs is a tradition that should only be changed by the House Republican caucus deciding “behind closed doors.”
Hopper said the House needs to stop empowering Democrats with committee chair assignments.
He said Phelan created a power structure with Democrats and “a cabal of Republicans” whom he funds with hundreds of thousands of dollars, “and that’s why our Republican agenda doesn’t get passed.”
Phelan is Stucky’s second-highest campaign contributor this election cycle ($43,400) behind Texans for Lawsuit Reform ($78,400). In the 2022 election cycle, Phelan was Stucky’s top contributor ($101,800).
Candidates were asked if, in light of the Senate’s acquittal, they now feel the vote by the House to impeach Paxton was proper.
Stucky was among the 60 House Republicans who voted in favor of impeachment. He said when the House was asked last February for $3.3 million to pay off Paxton’s whistleblower lawsuit, they asked the attorney general four times “to come and tell us why we should do that rather than him fighting” but never got an answer.
“He never came to us, so there was an investigation done and there was sufficient evidence to believe … that it needed to be moved to a trial,” he said.
“By the way, it’s not over yet,” Stucky added.
“It is over,” countered Hopper, who is endorsed by Paxton. He said Stucky told constituents he didn’t actually vote to impeach, just passed it over to the Senate.
“The only people who can impeach are the House of Representatives, and they voted to impeach on evidence that was completely insufficient,” said Hopper.
Hays said the last time the state of Texas impeached a statewide office holder, the House took six months to investigate, hear testimony under oath, and deliberate before taking a vote and forwarding the decision to the Senate.
“In this situation, they were given 48 hours,” she said.
“A lot of people did have concerns, and if they wanted to have that investigated, then you do it properly,” Hays added. “But it was a political response and an embarrassment to our state, should never have occurred, and I absolutely would not have voted for that.”
Stucky is a veterinarian who lives in Sanger. Before his election to the legislature, he served 15 years on the Sanger ISD school board. Campaign finance reports filed with the Texas Ethics Commission on January 15 show Stucky had $179,000 cash on hand as of December 31.
Hopper is a software engineer. He manages a family farm in Decatur and is a member of the Texas State Guard. Before challenging Stucky, he ran in the 2020 special election for Senate District 30. Hopper’s latest campaign finance report shows $53,000 cash on hand.
Hays is a financial planner who lives in Runaway Bay. She served on the Amarillo City Council from 2017 to 2021 and ran in the crowded 2020 GOP primary for Texas’ 13th Congressional District. She has since moved back to Wise County where she grew up. Hays’ year-end report shows her campaign had $142,700 cash on hand, most from a $150,000 loan from the candidate.
Early voting in the March 5 primary election starts on February 20.
The entire House District 64 forum can be viewed here.