House District 17, which covers Milam, Burleson, Lee, Bastrop, and Caldwell counties, is currently held by State Rep. John Cyrier (R–Lockhart). Cyrier chose not to seek re-election, leaving an open seat in the Texas House.
Four candidates competed in the March 1 Republican primary, and the May 24 runoff election will determine whether the Republican nomination goes to Stan Gerdes or Paul Pape.
A former staffer to Texas Governor Rick Perry, Gerdes also worked as a senior advisor for the Trump administration during Perry’s tenure as Secretary of Energy. After returning to Texas, Gerdes joined the Smithville City Council, with his term expiring in May.
Based on data from Transparency USA, Gerdes has raised just under $200,000 and currently has less than $50,000 cash on hand. He has accumulated many smaller donations, and most seem to come from people in the oil and gas industry throughout Texas.
However, Gerdes just received the endorsement of Texans for Lawsuit Reform earlier this week, which will likely boost his campaign account as TLR endorsements often come with campaign contributions.
Besides the TLR endorsement, Gerdes has also been endorsed by Perry, U.S. Reps. Chip Roy and Pete Sessions, and two unions (the Texas Municipal Police Association and the Texas State Association of Fire Fighters).
Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape is a longtime resident of Bastrop County, a local minister, and a businessman. Pape is currently serving as the chairman of the Capital Area Council of Governments, which collaborates on regional issues such as “emergency communications, elderly assistance, law enforcement training, criminal justice planning, solid waste reduction, homeland security planning, infrastructure development, transportation planning and economic development.”
According to Transparency USA, Pape’s campaign is mostly self-funded to the tune of $200,000, with just over $31,000 cash on hand currently. Pape has received smaller donations from former State Rep. John Cyrier ($2,500) as well as the Independent Bankers Association of Texas PAC ($1,500), the Association of Professional Educators PAC ($1,000), and the Texas Parents PAC ($1,000).
Additionally, Pape has received endorsements from Life PAC TX and former HD 17 primary candidate Jen Bezner.
Over the past several weeks, Texas Scorecard has been asking all candidates in runoff elections for state legislative races questions about key issues that Republican voters are considering as they prepare to head to the polls.
Regarding ending the practice of Democrat committee chairmanships, Gerdes refused to answer the question in a candidate forum and declined to answer Texas Scorecard. Pape told Texas Scorecard that he would strongly prefer that only Republicans receive chairmanships.
On protecting women’s collegiate athletics from men pretending to be women, Pape declared his support of the protections, whereas Gerdes declined to answer.
Concerning property taxes, Pape supports a wide berth of plans to provide property tax relief, including “addressing out-of-control appraisal values” and more state funding of education in order to lower local school taxes, which are a significant portion of each property tax bill. Gerdes declined to answer the question.
Pape acknowledged the border invasion and announced his support for state action, while Gerdes declined to answer the question.
Closing the loopholes in Texas obscenity laws that allow for pornographic books in schools and ending the practice of corporate welfare (taxpayer-funded tax benefits to large corporations) are both supported by Pape, whereas Gerdes declined to answer the questions.
Less than three weeks away from Election Day, the May 24 runoff election will determine who will be sent to Austin to represent HD 17. Early voting begins on May 16.