House District 12, currently represented by State Rep. Kyle Kacal, includes part of Brazos County and Grimes, Madison, Robertson, Walker, and Washington Counties.

Kacal (R-College Station) did not run for re-election, with Ben Bius and Trey Wharton making the runoff election for the open seat.

Ben Bius

Bius is a Huntsville businessman who previously ran for the HD 12 seat in 2022 against Kacal.

Bius has received endorsements from Lt. Gov Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, Texans for Medical Freedom, Texas Right to Life, Young Conservatives of Texas, True Texas Project, and Grassroots America: We the People. He also received an AQ rating from the National Rifle Association and an A rating from Gun Owners of America.

Bius’ campaign has been funded by individuals. As of the last campaign finance report, he has about $650,000 in available funds.

Trey Wharton

Wharton is a businessman and former Huntsville Independent School District board member.

Wharton has been endorsed by Gov. Greg Abbott, the Texas Farm Bureau, AFSCME: Texas Correctional Employees Council, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, and the Texas Alliance for Life.

Wharton’s campaign received almost $200,000 from Gov. Abbott. His small-scale contributors are mainly individuals, although he received donations from the Texas Academy of Family Physicians PAC and AFSCME Texas Correctional Officers PAC.

The Issues

For the past several weeks, Texas Scorecard questioned all state legislative runoff candidates on issues important to voters as they head to the polls.

On the question of Republicans appointing Democrat committee chairs, both Bius and Wharton stated that they would oppose any appointments of Democrats to such positions.

On border security, both candidates support stronger laws to discourage as much illegal immigration as possible. Bius said that if elected, he would raise crimes such as human trafficking and possession of a deadly weapon by a foreign national to capital offenses. Wharton said he would support finishing President Trump’s border wall and the end of immigration incentives.

Bius and Wharton agreed that hostile foreign ownership of Texas land must be banned for Americans’ safety.

On the matter of gambling expansion, the two differed. Bius firmly opposes expansion in any form, saying, “Gambling preys upon the weakest, most vulnerable in our society and brings with it a myriad of problems, not just financial.” However, Wharton said, “it’s important to consider all options that can contribute positively to our state’s economy,” but it should be carefully monitored if implemented.

Both candidates support school choice and willingness to vote for Gov. Abbott’s previous school choice proposal.

To better secure elections, Bius said he supports returning prosecutorial authority to the attorney general, requiring proof of identification to vote, hand-counting votes, returning to voting by precincts instead of voting centers, and providing protection to electoral college members. Wharton did not respond to this inquiry.

On the question of protecting citizens’ Second Amendment rights, both Bius and Wharton said they support these freedoms. Bius also said that if elected, he would oppose any infringement laws of these rights.

Regarding what they would like to see in a House Speaker candidate, Bius said, “I will support a speaker who is a true conservative as evidenced by his or her voting record, public statements, and campaign platform, and adheres to the Contract with Texas.” Wharton responded, “I have signed the Contract With Texas.” The contract is a dozen reforms to improve the integrity, transparency, and efficiency of the House.

Election Day

The winner of the Republican runoff on Tuesday, May 28 will compete with Democrat Dee Howard Mullings and Libertarian Robert Profili in the November general election. Early voting for the runoff begins Monday, May 20, and runs through Friday, May 25.

Amelia McKenzie

Amelia is a senior at Liberty University in Virginia. She is studying Digital Journalism and is currently a fellow with Texas Scorecard.