Currently represented by incumbent Phil Stephenson (R–Wharton), House District 85 covers Wharton, Colorado, Fayette, Austin, Waller counties and part of Fort Bend County.
Stephenson, who signed onto a Medicaid expansion package and has a rating of 43 on the Texans for Fiscal Responsibility Index, also has full marks from Texas Right to Life and will face former Waller County Commissioner Stan Kitzman in the May runoff election.
A former small-business owner, public school teacher, former Waller County Commissioner, and now drainage district manager Stan Kitzman has a long history in Waller County.
Notably, while Waller County Commissioner, Kitzman was sued by the City of Hempstead as well as a citizen group—Citizens Against the Landfill in Hempstead—-for violations of the Open Meetings Act and the Public Information Act. Kitzman, as well as other city officials, were found guilty of the violations. Kitzman later attempted to remove his name from the lawsuit and the Texas 1st Court of Appeals overruled Kitzman’s appeal.
According to the most recent campaign finance data from the Texas Ethics Commission, Kitzman has raised just over $85,000 throughout his campaign and currently has less than $20,000 cash on hand. Kitzman’s largest contributor is the Executive Chairman of Hilcorp Energy Jeffrey Hildebrand ($10,000). Sim-Tex President Charles Scianna Jr. has also contributed $5,000 during this runoff election period. Kitzman’s donations are primarily from individuals in the business sector.
Kitzman has received the endorsements of Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, and Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar.
The incumbent state representative for HD 85, Stephenson’s poor fiscal record—-43 on the Texans for Fiscal Responsibility Index—contrasts with his rating of 100 percent from Texas Right to Life. The Young Conservatives of Texas, which rates legislators on a host of fiscal and social issue votes, rated Stephenson at 65 on their legislative scorecard. Notably, Stephenson was one of only five votes to prohibit Democrat committee chairs in the Republican-majority Texas House.
Based on the most recent data from the Texas Ethics Commission, Stephenson has raised around $110,000 throughout his campaign and currently has just over $30,000 cash on hand. Stephenson did receive $10,000 from the House Republican Caucus but overall, Republican establishment leaders have stayed out of Stephenson’s campaign.
Stephenson has received the endorsements of Texas Right to Life, Texas Home School Coalition, Texas State Teachers Association, Texas Farm Bureau, and the National Federation of Independent Business – Texas.
Over the past several weeks, Texas Scorecard has questioned the runoff candidates on issues important to voters as they head to the polls.
Regarding Democrat committee chairmanships in the Texas House, Stephenson is on record as being against the practice, whereas Kitzman declined to respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.
Both Kitzman and Stephenson agreed that extending the protections for girls’ sports to womens’ collegiate athletics is the logical choice when women are currently forced to compete against men pretending to be women.
Property taxes are ever-increasing, and Stephenson proposes using the state surplus to pay down property taxes, then swapping property taxes in favor of a sales tax. Stephenson also stressed the need for eliminating waste in the state budget and moving to a zero-based budgeting system. Kitzman did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.
On the issue of protecting parental rights in education by prohibiting the teaching of dangerous gender and sexual ideologies in kindergarten through third-grade classrooms, both Kitzman and Stephenson support such a prohibition.
The border invasion has left Texas fending for itself in the absence of federal assistance. Kitzman and Stephenson agreed that Texas must do whatever is necessary to protect itself and its people.
Closing the loopholes in Texas obscenity laws to protect children from pornographic materials in their school libraries is an issue that both Kitzman and Stephenson support.
Stephenson supports ending corporate welfare—tax breaks and taxpayer-funded subsidies for large corporations—while Kitzman declined to respond.
Both Kitzman and Stephenson said they are against vaccine mandates and will work to prohibit them in the Legislature.
The winner of the Republican runoff will face Democrat Larry Baggett and Libertarian Michael Miller in November. Election Day for the runoff is Tuesday, May 24. Early voting is ongoing this week.
Updated to include new endorsement by Abbott.