On Monday, former U.S. congressional candidate Wesley Virdell officially announced he would be challenging Republican State Rep. Andrew Murr (Junction) for the Republican nomination to Texas House District 53.

In his announcement, Virdell said:

I am entering this race because we need stronger leadership in Austin. My opponent voted to allow democrats to chair powerful committees and voter fraud penalties were reduced from felony to misdemeanor for a bill he sponsored. It is time to replace those who won’t stand up with those who will.

Virdell is a resident of McCulloch County, a new addition to District 53 based on the recently approved district boundaries in the recently concluded decennial redistricting process.

Virdell went on to say:

After watching TX Rep. Andrew Murr remain silent while big government-mandated masks, shut down businesses, and destroy family incomes, I could not remain on the sidelines. I knew I had to take action.

 

As I travel across the district I constantly hear from residents that they believe Murr never stands up for them or I hear complaints that they have not seen him since he was first elected.

Democrat Committee Chairmen

At the outset of the 87th regular legislative session earlier this year, State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City) offered two different amendments to the House Rules of Procedure. One would have limited committee chairs of key House committees to only the membership of the majority party, and the other would have prevented the minority party membership from chairing any of the House committees. It’s an issue that has thwarted Republican legislative priorities for years.

Both amendments failed, and Murr voted against both efforts.

As the legislative session progressed, Democrat chairmen again continued to stymie Republican legislative priorities as they were making their way through the legislative process.

Voter Fraud Penalty Reduction

Murr was the House sponsor of the election integrity legislation that finally passed in the second special legislative session. The legislation was victim to yet another Democrat House lawmaker quorum bust in the first special session and was notably different from the legislation considered in the 87th regular session earlier this year, which was also the cause of a similar quorum break.

When the legislation was finally being considered in the House, Murr allowed an amendment by Republican State Rep. Steve Allison (San Antonio) to be adopted, which would lower the penalty for illegal voting, eventually causing activists to cry foul.

As a result, the issue was later added to the agenda for the third special legislative session. Though the Senate passed legislation to fix the issue, the House never considered it.

The Incumbent

Murr is the current chairman of the House Corrections Committee and was first elected in 2014, having served as the Kimble County judge prior to that.

Texans for Fiscal Responsibility gave Murr a rating of 73 out of 100 on their Fiscal Responsibility Index. Rice University rated Murr as the 23rd most conservative House lawmaker of the 82 Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives.

New District Boundaries

The recently approved boundaries for House District 53 add four additional counties to its current boundaries. The district now stretches from Fort Stockton in West Texas to just west of San Antonio.

Congressional Bid

In 2020, Virdell was among 10 other Republican candidates vying for the open seat resulting from former U.S. Congressman Mike Conaway not seeking re-election to Texas’ Congressional District 11.

Virdell placed third, and current Republican Congressman Austin Pfluger went on to win without a runoff election.

What is Next?

The candidate filing period began over the past weekend and will continue until December 13.

The primary election is currently scheduled for March 1, 2022.