Residents of Texas House District 5 have had conservative representation for over a decade from State Rep. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), but Hughes’ choice to run for the Texas Senate has put the seat up for grabs. Indeed like many other elections around the state, no candidate won enough of a majority in the Republican Primary to avoid a runoff.
Pitted against one another for the right to represent the swath of East Texas are Cole Hefner, a small business owner and former Upshur County Commissioner, and Jay Misenheimer, a businessman and member of the Lindale School Board.
With a strong record of limiting government during his time in elected office, Hefner has campaigned as a spiritual successor to the conservative Hughes, who earned an “A” on the Fiscal Responsibility Index every year and served as the “Pro-Life Whip” in the Texas House. In an interview with the Mount Pleasant Daily Tribune, Hefner said the district would “best be served by a representative that continues the philosophy of conservative principals rooted in Christian faith carried by current Rep. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola).”
Misenheimer had warm words for Hughes as well, endorsing him while he was running for re-election to the seat Misenheimer now vies for.
“Bryan Hughes is an advocate for local control of our schools. He knows that the best solutions don’t come from Washington or Austin,” said Misenheimer. “He stands up for our area, and he is a strong supporter of our schools. As a small businessman and a school board trustee, I give him my full endorsement.”
But at some point Misenheimer must have soured on Hughes. In Hughes’ race for the Senate, Misenheimer’s name appears amongst those endorsing Red Brown—an establishment candidate in the Senate District 1 race that failed to make the runoff.
Misenheimer and Brown seem to be close after serving together on the Lindale ISD School Board. A number of donors to each individual have made roughly equal donations to the other, and more disturbingly, Austin lobby organizations have followed suit. The biggest support has come from education establishment including groups like Charles Butt’s Parent PAC, the Texas State Teachers Association PAC, and the ATPE PAC. All are infamous for opposing pro-taxpayers reforms, opposing conservative incumbents, and have now thrown large financial support at both Misenheimer and Brown’s campaigns.
While the Austin education lobby backs Misenheimer, Hefner pulls his support from the grassroots. Grassroots America – We the People, the largest conservative organization in East Texas, has issued a strong endorsement of Hefner.
“We need men and women of courage who will not succumb to unconstitutional acts of tyranny by the federal government, including the federal judiciary. This means fighting for precious liberty, not bowing down to liberal media opinions, big business interests, and a ‘God-less’ culture. Tough times call for strong, principled leaders. That’s why we strongly endorse Cole Hefner for the Texas House.”
Young Conservatives of Texas, Texas Right to Life, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, and many other statewide conservative organizations have rallied behind Hefner as well, but it will be up to local voters to determine whether House District 5 will stay in conservative hands or fall to the encroaching establishment of liberals and lobbyists.