The election season is far from over for two incumbent Republican Texas lawmakers, who now find themselves in runoff elections.
In West Texas’ House District 59, State Rep. J.D. Sheffield (R–Gatesville) is in hot water after coming in second place in a three-way primary election.
First elected in 2012 after Democrats crossed over into the GOP primary to vote for him against future Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, who previously held the seat, Sheffield cemented himself as one of the most liberal members of the Texas House Republican Caucus. Since then, he has earned a career “F” on the Fiscal Responsibility Index and a dismal score of 39 during the most recent legislative session.
Sheffield has also split with his party on the issue of life, publicly opposing ending late-term abortions 10 times. He was also the only member of the House Republican Caucus to vote against Senate Bill 11, the campus concealed carry bill.
On Tuesday night, Sheffield was only able to garner 30 percent of the vote. He lagged far behind Shelby Slawson, an attorney, small business owner, and grassroots activist who led the field with nearly 46 percent. Businessman and rancher Cody Johnson, who self-funded his campaign with nearly $1 million, came in third place with 24 percent of the vote.
Meanwhile, in East Texas, State Rep. Dan Flynn (R–Van) also finds himself facing a runoff after being challenged by two conservative candidates.
First elected in 2003, Flynn was once one of the Texas House’s most conservative lawmakers and one of the few who fought against falling in line behind House Speaker Joe Straus after his successful Democrat-led coup against Republican Speaker Tom Craddick.
But after conservatives were defeated, Flynn sold out and became a supplicant for the very regime he’d fought against. He went on to serve as a lead attack dog against UT Regent Wallace Hall, a whistleblower who uncovered egregious examples of favoritism and corruption in the university admission process by which elected officials would secure admission to the university for their children or those of wealthy donors.
A “Taxpayer Champion” in 2009 and 2011, Flynn’s rating on the Fiscal Responsibility Index declined first to a “B,” then a “C.” For the last two legislative sessions, Flynn fell to an “F” for his dismal record of voting against taxpayers and supporting bloated budgets and new taxes.
On Tuesday night, Flynn finished in first place, but with only 44 percent of the vote—not enough to win outright. He will be facing conservative activist Bryan Slaton, who earned 35 percent of the vote.
For both Flynn and Sheffield, the results spell bad news. An incumbent legislator has not won a runoff election in Texas for decades.
The runoff election is scheduled for May 26.