In much of the Lone Star State, Republicans are on the defensive against the Democrats; but in the Texas Hill Country, three different individuals are competing to carry the Republican banner against an incumbent Democrat this November.
Abutting Austin to the west and south, Texas House District 45 is composed of Blanco and Hays counties. The district was captured by Republican Jason Isaac of Dripping Springs in 2010. Isaac held that seat against all opposition until 2018 when he gave it up to run a congressional campaign that fell short.
Isaac is now the senior manager and distinguished fellow of Life: Powered, a project of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
To succeed him, HD 45 Republicans had a crowded primary in which establishment-backed Ken Strange, a local official in Wimberley, won without a runoff.
Strange proceeded to lose the November election to Democrat Erin Zweiner by nearly 3,000 votes, placing HD 45 back in Democrat hands.
Since entering the Texas Legislature, Zweiner has eschewed the traditional wisdom of moderating her political positions to keep the district she represents and has instead voted with the far-left wing of the Democrat party—earning a dismal score of 20 on the Fiscal Responsibility Index and being rated as the fourth most liberal member of the Texas House.
Fighting for the right to take on Zweiner in the November general election are three Republicans: Carrie Isaac, Austin Talley, and Bud Wymore.
Carrie Isaac of Dripping Springs, the wife of former State Rep. Jason Isaac, is considered the favorite to win the election. Isaac is the executive director of an Austin-based nonprofit that helps disabled veterans secure employment.
She’s been endorsed by the NRA, Texas Homeschool Coalition, Texas Right to Life, and more than a dozen elected officials. Isaac also boasts the strongest in-district support with community leaders and precinct chairs, many of which have endorsed her campaign.
Also running is Austin Talley of Kyle. A military veteran and entrepreneur, Talley campaigned for the Republican nomination in 2018 but was unsuccessful. Since then, however, Talley has continued to be actively involved in the district and the state.
Talley was one of the first political candidates in the state to call for disgraced former Speaker of the Texas House Dennis Bonnen to resign following revelations that he offered Empower Texans CEO a quid pro quo.
Rounding out the three candidates is Bud Wymore, an attorney and former chairman of the Hays County GOP. Wymore has positioned himself as the centrist Republican candidate in the race.
He’s been endorsed by former candidate Ken Strange and a number of Hays County local officials.
Texans for Fiscal Responsibility has not issued an endorsement in the race.
The Republican primary election will take place on March 3, 2020. Early voting runs from February 18-28.