Former State Sen. Dawn Buckingham won the runoff election for land commissioner with a majority of the vote, according to unofficial results reported by the Texas Secretary of State. Buckingham defeated challenger Dr. Tim Westley, Army veteran and former Republican Party of Texas historian.

Buckingham, previously an ophthalmologist, was first elected to the Texas Senate in 2016. She announced her candidacy shortly after previous land commissioner George P. Bush declared his run for Texas attorney general.

As head of the Texas General Land Office (GLO), the land commissioner “manages state lands, operates the Alamo, helps Texans recovering from natural disasters, helps fund Texas public education through the Permanent School Fund, provides benefits to Texas Veterans, and manages the vast Texas coast.”

Under Bush, the GLO faced intense criticism for their plans to “reimagine” the Alamo, including relocating the historic Alamo Cenotaph across the street to a smaller plaza. In response, Buckingham promised to keep the Cenotaph in place and protect the Alamo from “revisionist” history. She also vowed to resolve the plaza’s numerous structural issues.

“I did find something really disturbing when I was visiting there a month or so ago. … The limestone walls are actually pulling the moisture out of the ground and it’s dissolving them from within, kind of like if you have limestone around your saltwater pool,” said Buckingham. “And so, they’re losing about 60 pounds of stone-shed, internally, [in] a year alone, and that’s been going on for a long time.”

In an interview with Texas Scorecard, Buckingham resolved to increase border security. She promised to work with lawmakers and create legislation declaring illegal border-crossers felons if they are arrested on federal land, thereby making them ineligible for citizenship. Buckingham also highlighted the need for more security measures and expressed doubts that a border wall is effective without additional support.

“Obviously, a physical barrier doesn’t stop everybody,” said Buckingham. “It might slow them down, it might channel them differently to go across a different space, but it doesn’t stop everybody. You need the boots on the ground, you need the technology.”

She gained an early lead on the campaign trail after former President Donald Trump endorsed her candidacy last October. However, the field included eight other candidates, and although Buckingham secured the most votes, no candidate received a majority of more than 50 percent. Consequently, Buckingham and second-place finisher Dr. Tim Westley were forced into a runoff election.

After securing the Republican nomination, Buckingham now faces the Democrat nominee for land commissioner in the November 8 election.

Katy Drollinger

Katy is eager to use her skills in writing and research to accurately report on issues for Texas Scorecard. She graduated from Tarleton State University in 2021 after majoring in history and minoring in political science.

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