Less than two weeks are left for candidates to file for elected positions up and down the ballot as a part of the 2022 primary and general election cycles.
As candidates file with their respective political parties and the Texas secretary of state, some of the lists of candidates for elected state House offices are becoming crowded, potentially providing for a compelling primary cycle.
Crowded Fields for the Texas House of Representatives
East Texas is a mixed bag when it comes to Republican House lawmakers. They range from conservative to liberal on most legislative rating indexes.
One of the lawmakers who can almost readily be found on the more liberal end is incumbent Republican Travis Clardy (Nacogdoches). Clardy currently represents House District 11 and has already picked up three primary election challengers, all running to his right. Former 2020 House District 9 candidate Mark Williams, Nacogdoches businessman Greg Caldwell, and small business owner and activist Rachel Hale have all filed for the seat.
Clardy has historically been a constant thorn in Republican activists’ side as they attempt to push through the Republican party’s own legislative priorities. Clardy supported legislation seeking to expand Medicaid in the 87th regular legislative session earlier this year, contrary to his own party’s platform. He joined Democrats in a vote against a prohibition on gender modification and was at one time a candidate for House Speaker reportedly campaigning on a coalition government. In 2017, he was censured by the Cherokee County Republican Party, one of three of the counties he represents.
Another East Texas contested race is that of House District 18, currently represented by Republican State Rep. Ernest Bailes (Shepherd).
Similar to Clardy, Bailes’ record is one of being rated at the bottom end of legislative indexes. He also signed on to legislation seeking to expand Medicaid in the regular legislative session earlier this year.
He is being challenged thus far by two candidates in current State Republican Executive Committeewoman Janis Holt and Splendora native Ronnie “Bubba” Tullos, both running to his right.
One of the regions of the state that saw many of its districts change as a result of the recently concluded decennial redistricting process is that of Central Texas, a reflection of the burgeoning population in the area both within the City of Austin and surrounding communities.
One example is the addition of a completely new House District to the region, House District 19, currently represented by Republican State Rep. James White (Hillister) in East Texas. Once White announced he was running for Texas agriculture commissioner, challenging the incumbent Republican Sid Miller, his district was absorbed by other districts in the region to enable the creation of the new one to the West of the Travis County area. As such, it is an open seat.
Former Austin City Councilwoman Ellen Troxclair suspended her state Senate campaign to announce for the newly drawn district in October. Austin-area policeman Justin Berry had originally announced to once again challenge Democrat State Rep. Vikki Goodwin for House District 47 but also switched his campaign to the new district, pitting former coalition candidates against one another which almost immediately became tense. In November, another candidate entered the race in longtime conservative activist Nubia Devine.
At the outset of the most recent special legislative session, Democrat State Rep. Celia Israel announced that she would not be seeking re-election to House District 50 and instead was exploring a run for Mayor of the city of Austin.
As such, three Democrat candidates have now announced for the open seat. These include David Alcorta, a city of Austin employee, Rudy Metayer, a current Pflugerville City Council member, and current House District 52 State Rep. James Talarico (Round Rock) who announced he would be moving due to the new boundaries of his current district being much more favorable to a would-be Republican candidate.
House District 52 was expanded with new boundaries and the incumbent Talarico campaigning for House District 50, it leaves it an open seat. So far, four Republican candidates have announced that they are vying for the position. These include Republican activist Patrick McGuinness, legislative staffer Carolyn Harris, attorney Nelson Jarrin, and podcaster Jonathan Schober.
In the southeast Travis County area, Democrat State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (Austin) who currently represents House District 51 announced he was running for Texas Congressional District 35 after incumbent Democrat Congressman Lloyd Doggett announced he was running for the newly created Texas Congressional District 37. This makes House District 51 an open-seat and already several Democrat candidates have emerged which include Matt Worthington, Vice President of the Del Valle Community Coalition, Austin-area attorney Lulu Flores, and Mike Hendrix, a former candidate for House District 46.
Another district that saw significant changes to its boundaries as a result of the redistricting process was House District 73, currently represented by Republican State Rep. Kyle Biedermann (Fredericksburg). The district was essentially split in two, with two of its northern counties being added to the aforementioned newly created House District 19.
Biedermann announced he would not be seeking re-election at the end of October. Before that, however, former House District 45 Republican candidate Carrie Isaac, wife of former Republican State Rep. Jason Isaac, announced she was already running for the seat. She is joined by George Green, a former New Braunfels City Council member, and former New Braunfels Mayor Barron Casteel.
Democrat State Rep. John Bucy III (Cedar Park), who currently represents House District 136, has a general election challenger in Republican businesswoman and fitness coach Michelle Evans. Bucy was first elected in 2018 by ousting the incumbent Republican Tony Dale by almost 10 percent of the vote. In 2020, he won reelection and beat the Republican challenger Mike Guevara by slightly over 10 percent again. In this cycle, the district has new boundaries as it no longer incorporates the city of Leander and a portion of Cedar Park while also gaining a portion of the city of Round Rock.
East of Travis County, in House District 12 which encompasses all of Robertson, Madison, Walker, Grimes, and Washington counties as well as a portion of Brazos County with the cities of Bryan and College Station, liberal Republican incumbent Kyle Kacal (College Station), finds himself challenged by two other Republicans. One is Army veteran and purple heart recipient Joshua Hamm while the other is Ben Bius, who unsuccessfully ran as a candidate for Senate District 5 in both 2010 and 2012 after having also been a candidate for House District 18 in 2000 and Texas Congressional District 2 in 1996.
Kacal was rated among the lowest Republicans on various legislative rating scales and similar to both Clardy and Bailes, supported legislation seeking to expand Medicaid in Texas. Kacal was also one of a handful of Republicans who voted with Democrats to reject a proposal to ban mask mandates as the Texas Pandemic Response Act was being debated in the House of Representatives and when Democrats fled for Washington, D.C., to break quorum earlier this year, Kacal immediately called for compromise, saying Democrats should be given “a victory or two.”
Republican State Rep. John Cyrier (Lockhart) who currently represents House District 17 announced he was not seeking re-election in mid-November, but not before her had already had two announced challengers running to his right which include longtime activist Tom Glass and Smithville resident Jen Bezner.
At the end of November, another candidate jumped in the race in Stan Gerdez, a former advisor under President Donald Trump and former Texas Governor Rick Perry staffer.
House District 17 gained additional counties in the wake of the recently concluded redistricting process.
Out in Lubbock, Republican State Rep. John Frullo (Lubbock) who currently represents House District 84 announced in early November that he was not seeking re-election, having first been elected in 2010.
So far, three candidates have emerged to run for the open seat: former Lubbock County Republican Party chairman and real estate agent Carl Tepper, attorney David Glasheen, and businessman Kade Wilcox.
House District 84 saw its boundaries expand as a result of the recently concluded redistricting process to incorporate more of Lubbock County.
An obvious victim of the recently concluded redistricting process is that of Republican State Rep. Jeff Cason (Bedford) who currently represents House District 92. Cason announced he would not be seeking re-election Thursday, and cited his new district boundaries being created to favor a would-be Democrat candidate as the chief reason.
As the new boundaries were being debated, he was vocally opposed to the form they were taking. Activists and conservative groups attempted to implore Cason’s fellow Republican colleagues to save the district but to no avail.
Even before Cason’s announcement, three Democrat candidates had already announced for the seat, including Salman Bhojani, a Euless City Councilman and attorney, businesswoman Tracy Scott, and social worker Dinesh Sharma.
Republican State Rep. Matt Krause (Haslet), who currently represents House District 93, recently suspended his campaign for Texas attorney general and announced instead he would be a candidate for Tarrant County district attorney, seeking to replace Sharen Wilson, who also recently announced she was not seeking re-election.
The district boundaries were altered in the recently concluded redistricting process to now include a larger portion of north-central Tarrant County.
Candidates have already filed to succeed Krause and include the former Southlake Mayor Laura Hill and former pastor Nate Schatzline. Reports have indicated that current Fort Worth City Councilman Cary Moon is exploring a run for the seat as well.
Another notable challenge is to incumbent Republican State Rep. Stephanie Klick (Ft. Worth) who currently represents House District 91. Klick caught the ire of activists in the most recent legislative session since she is the House Public Health Committee Chairman and legislation related to protecting children from gender modification was stalled in her committee. She has drawn challengers that consist of Anthony Reed, a former legislative staffer and Haltom City Councilman, and David Lowe, an Army veteran and former north regional director for the Texas GOP.
As the most recent special legislative session was winding down in October, liberal Republican State Rep. Lyle Larson (San Antonio) confirmed what many had already assumed to be true in that he was not seeking re-election to House District 122 in Northwest Bexar County.
A longtime thorn in the side of Republican activists, Larson has on several occasions publicly admonished Republican leadership and called for a third political party, all the while continuing with the Republican moniker.
Almost immediately after Larson’s announcement, a crowded Republican field emerged, consisting of former Bexar County GOP Chairman and current State Republican Executive Committeeman Mark Dorazio, former Austin City Councilwoman Elisa Chan, San Antonio businessman Adam Blanchard, and former Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood.
A few weeks later, an additional candidate was announced in Mark Cuthbert, a U.S. Air Force veteran.
Greater Houston Area
A newly created district as a result of the burgeoning population was drawn in House District 76 near the Southwest Houston area. The current House District 76 was located in El Paso and represented by freshman Democrat State Rep. Claudia Ordaz-Perez (El Paso) who has since announced she was challenging incumbent Democrat State Rep. Art Fierro for his House District 79 position.
The new House District 76 already has 4 Democrat announced candidates and they include former Democrat candidates for House District 26 Dr. Suleman Lalani and Sarah DeMerchant as well as Fort Bend area activist James Burnett
Another notable open seat is that of House District 133, currently represented by Republican State Rep. Jim Murphy (Houston) who is also the current House GOP Caucus Chairman. He announced at the outset of the most recent special legislative session he would not be running for re-election. He was routinely among the more liberal end of his Republican colleagues on most legislative rating indexes and routinely voted against many of those same colleagues and Texas GOP legislative priorities.
Since his announcement, five Republican candidates have emerged: former Houston City Councilmen Bert Keller and Greg Travis, businessman Will Franklin, and attorneys Mano DeAyala and Shelley Barineau.
Key Election Dates
The candidate filing deadline is Monday, December 13. As of right now, the primary election is scheduled for March 1, 2022, and the general election is November 2, 2022.
It is likely that additional candidates will file between this publication and the candidate filing deadline, potentially making these aforementioned races even more crowded.
Other Installments in the Series
Part 1: Statewide Races Taking Shape
Part 2: Texas Senate Races Taking Shape