The 2024 primary election was a major success for school choice advocates in Texas. Several opponents of education reform lost outright, others went to runoffs, and still more were electorally weakened.

Corey DeAngelis, a school choice advocate and head of the American Federation for Children Victory Fund, released a statement touting six wins and four forced runoffs in the 13 races where his PAC was engaged.

Throughout multiple called special sessions in 2023, the Republican-led House alternatively delayed and killed Gov. Greg Abbott’s efforts to create school choice in Texas. Ultimately, these efforts culminated with 21 Republicans voting for an amendment by John Raney (R-College Station) to strip school choice from an omnibus education measure.

Accounting for retirements and with the runoffs still to be decided, only a handful of incumbent Republicans who sided with the teachers’ unions to kill school choice during the legislative session will be returning to Austin in 2025.


Half of the losses handed out last night to anti-school choice incumbents were repeat challenges of incumbents challenged in 2022.

Reggie Smith (R-Van Alystne) lost a rematch to Shelley Luther, who gained notoriety in 2020 when she was briefly jailed after re-opening her Dallas hair salon during the 2020 pandemic. Though Smith voted against school choice, Abbott did not engage the race. For her part, Luther has said she looks forward to working with the governor to pass school choice this next session. 

Attorney Travis Clardy (R-Nacogdoches) lost to Joanne Shofner. In this race, Clardy enjoyed the support of Ken Paxton for his vote against the latter’s impeachment, while Shofner had Abbott’s endorsement.

Finally, Mike Olcott soundly defeated an increasingly unhinged incumbent, Glenn Rogers (R-Graford). In addition to challenging other Texas elected officials to a duel during his campaign, Rogers regularly made social media posts and public statements in all caps while going on rants in live videos.

Other incumbents to fall included State Reps. Ernest Bailes (R-Shepherd), Hugh Shine (R-Temple), and Steve Allison (R-San Antonio).


In addition to the losses, several lawmakers are headed to runoff elections, where incumbents have historically performed poorly.

A vocal critic of school choice efforts in 2023, State Rep. Justin Holland (R-Rockwall) has been forced into a runoff with former Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson. While Ken Paxton backed Pierson, Gov. Greg Abbott abstained from getting involved in the first round.

Also embattled is State Rep. John Kuempel (R-Seguin). A proponent of gambling expansion, a policy position he inherited from his late father and former Texas House Member Edmund Kuempel, John is facing off against the Abbott-endorsed former State Rep. Alan Schoolcraft.

Other anti-school choice lawmakers headed to runoffs include State Reps. Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) and DeWayne Burns (R-Cleburne).  

The runoffs will provide additional opportunities for school choice advocates to add to their legislative ranks at the expense of union-backed incumbents.


If the Smith, Clardy, and Rogers races are any indication, even lawmakers who manage to escape defeat are potential marks for electoral defeat in subsequent elections.

Stan Lambert (R-Abilene) narrowly avoided defeat, besting ranch owner Liz Case by just over a thousand votes. Drew Darby (R-San Angelo) won re-election in the Lambert-adjacent House District 72 by a larger, but still unimpressive, 56 percent to 44 percent spread.

During the primary, multiple school districts were reportedly engaged in illegal or border-line electioneering, working to turn out the vote for these members of the Texas House. These efforts included encouraging Democrat voters to cross over and vote in Republican primary elections.

Open Seats

Open-seat races have also been kind to proponents of school choice. Five members who voted for the Raney Amendment retired, rather than seek re-election.

Andrew Murr (R-Kerrville) was most prominent among these retirements. Longtime Second Amendment activist Wes Virdell will fill his vacant seat.

Walter Four Price (R-Amarillo) is being succeeded by Caroline Fairly, who won nearly 60 percent of the vote in the House District.

As the dust settles, representatives who voted for the status quo in education, siding with teachers’ unions and Democrats, who are likely to return in addition to the already mentioned Lambert, are Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth), Ken King (R-Canadian), Jay Dean (R-Longview), and Keith Bell (R-Forney).

Daniel Greer

Daniel Greer is the Director of Innovation for Texas Scorecard.