Republican State Rep. Hugh Shine of Temple is facing three challengers in the ongoing GOP primary election to represent House District 55.  

Shine is being challenged by Hillary Hickland, Jorge Estrada, and Davis Ford for the central Texas seat in Bell County.

Shine’s stated priorities are securing the border, improving the economy, supporting law enforcement, lowering property taxes, and increasing school funding as well as funding teacher retirement. 

However, Shine’s vote against school choice in 2023 is a hot topic in the race. He supported an amendment to remove funds for a school choice program from the state budget. After his refusal to vote for Gov. Greg Abbott’s school choice program, Shine’s primary opponent Hillary Hickland received the governor’s endorsement. 

Abbott has since headlined two campaign events for Hickland.

Shine has received endorsements from the National Rifle Association, the Texas State Rifle Association, the Cattle Raisers PAC, the Texas Farm Bureau AgFund, the CLEAT (Combined Law Enforcement of Texas) PAC, the National Federation of Independent Business Texas PAC, and the TREPAC (Realtors).

His top campaign contributors are HillCo PAC, the Associated Republicans of Texas Campaign Fund (financed primarily by Abbott’s campaign treasurer John Nau III), House Speaker Dade Phelan, and Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC.

Meanwhile, Belton mom and pro-family advocate Hillary Hickland is a staunch supporter of educational freedom. Her main priorities along with advocating for school choice are securing the border, banning taxpayer-funded lobbying, lowering property taxes, protecting the unborn, limiting childrens’ access to social media, and preventing cities from defunding the police.

In addition to Abbott, Hickland has received endorsements from U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Texas State Sen. Mayes Middleton, Texas Right to Life PAC, Oil & Gas Workers Association, Family Empowerment Coalition PAC, Texas Home School Coalition Association, Texans for Medical Freedom, Young Conservatives of Texas, Americans for Prosperity, and Gun Owners of America. 

She also received an “AQ” rating from Texas State Rifle Association and National Rifle Association, which is the highest rating a candidate can receive without a voting record. Hickland’s campaign has been primarily funded by Abbott and the Family Empowerment Coalition PAC.

A Mechanic and veteran, Estrada listed his campaign priorities as limiting government size, protecting children, increasing Texas safety and security, and lowering living costs. He also noted that the state should focus on funding schools instead of providing educational freedom for Texas students. 

Estrada has not received endorsements for his campaign or any campaign contributions.

Ford’s priorities include defending the border, securing elections, protecting children from gender reassignment procedures, and eliminating property taxes. His campaign has been funded by individual donors.

Early voting is ongoing and ends March 1. Election Day is March 5.

Amelia McKenzie

Amelia is a senior at Liberty University in Virginia. She is studying Digital Journalism and is currently a fellow with Texas Scorecard.