Another Texas House Republican who voted against school choice has drawn a primary opponent.

Belton mom and pro-family advocate Hillary Hickland is challenging State Rep. Hugh Shine of Temple in next year’s Republican primary to represent House District 55 in Central Texas.

“This March, you’re going to have a choice between a career politician who has been running for office since 1985 and a mom who is tired of elected officials who side with one of Joe Biden’s top funders—radical unions,” Hickland said in her campaign announcement on Monday.

Hickland, a mother of four, says she plans to prioritize border security, the cost of living, and education—all key concerns within her community.

Education freedom is an area where Hickland and Shine disagree, even though school choice with funding that follows the student is a plank in the Republican Party of Texas platform and an RPT legislative priority for 2023.

During this year’s legislative session, Hickland was a fierce advocate for school choice and other policies focused on protecting children and families.

Before that, the PTA mom advocated locally in Belton Independent School District to remove sexually explicit books from students’ libraries—an issue Hickland also fought for at the state capitol.

Shine, on the other hand, is on record opposing school choice plans that allow funds to follow the child, saying “public money” should stay in the government school system.

During the regular legislative session in April, Shine was one of two dozen House Republicans who joined Democrats in voting for an amendment to the state’s budget that prohibited using funds for school choice programs.

Ahead of the third special legislative session that started in October, Shine told local media outlet 6 News, “The last thing we need to do is to dismantle a public education system by taking funding away without any real clear accountability in that process.”

Legislation to fund school choice never reached the House floor during that session, sparing Shine and other Republican representatives a public vote on the issue, and the same thing may happen during the ongoing fourth special session.

Shine was first elected in 1986 and served two terms. He was elected again in 2016 and has not faced a primary opponent since 2018.

For the 2024 election cycle, he has already raised $200,000 and has $700,000 cash on hand.

Shine announced his re-election plans last month at an event featuring Karl Rove.

Hickland believes Texans in her district, which covers part of Bell County, are ready for a change.

In March 2022, 88 percent of Republican primary voters statewide favored allowing parents to select schools for their children, with funds following students. In Bell County, the approval rate was 89 percent.

Recent polling shows a majority of Texans support “establishing a voucher, educational savings account (ESA), or other ‘school choice’ program in Texas.”

“Texas has always been a beacon for individual liberties that come from God,” said Hickland. “The people of House District 55 deserve strong, principled leaders who will reflect the values of our district and that’s why I’m running for State Representative.”

The candidate filing period for the March 2024 primaries runs through December 11.

Primary Election Day is Tuesday, March 5.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.