CANTON—Citizens preparing to vote in the special election runoff for an East Texas House seat had the chance to hear from both candidates and packed the room for the only slated debate before the election.

Encompassing Hunt, Van Zandt, and Hopkins counties, the seat was vacated in May after State Rep. Bryan Slaton, a Republican from Royse City, was expelled from the House.

The open seat saw five Republicans and one Democrat vying for the position.

Money, a local attorney, took the top spot in the first round of voting, with Republican businesswoman Jill Dutton coming in second place.

Since neither candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election was scheduled.

The debate was hosted by the Farm Bureau in Canton, the seat of Van Zandt County. 

Money—who has earned the endorsement of Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. Greg Abbott, and Attorney General Ken Paxton—made use of the opportunity to inform voters of those supporting his campaign. 

When it comes to what legislation each would like to champion in their first session, Money said he would focus on the priorities of the Republican Party of Texas—specifically ending gender mutilation and abolishing abortion. 

“I will offer a bill to provide equal protection to the unborn,” said Money. “I will also author a bill to ban gender modification and social transitioning in minors.”

Dutton said her signature piece of legislation would be to eliminate and replace the STAAR test. 

“That test in particular is punitive, and it’s high stakes,” said Dutton. “And we can replace that with a norm-referenced test that would actually measure students academic achievement.”

When asked which lawmaker they would model themselves after, Dutton said she had once responded with State Rep. Jared Patterson (R–Frisco) during a previous forum but ultimately “would rather just be my own person.”

“I don’t want to try to emulate anyone; no one’s perfect. And everybody has their reasons for voting certain ways, especially in the state house, and you’ve got to represent your district,” said Dutton.

Money, meanwhile, said he would model himself after State Rep. Brian Harrison (R–Midlothian).

“Brian Harrison, if you haven’t followed, has been a real fighter this year on vaccine mandate bans. He’s been a vocal leader on school choice. He’s been a vocal leader on the border. He’s intelligent; he always keeps it about policy instead of personality,” said Money, adding that none of the lawmakers that have endorsed him voted against school choice or to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton.  

The special election is slated to take place on January 30. 

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens