After fourteen straight years of winning elections, one representative has lost three of them in the past three months. No, it’s not Gary Gates, but that would be a good guess. Instead, it’s House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Chairman Wayne Smith (R-Baytown).
As far as lawmakers go, Smith was thought to be one of the most entrenched incumbents. He maintained a strong war chest, strong ties to the lobby, and had gone unchallenged in the Republican primary for fourteen years. Indeed, few thought he could be defeated—especially by an upstart grassroots candidate like Briscoe Cain, who came up short in an open seat race in 2014.
Many wrote off Cain’s bid to unseat Smith as an impossible fantasy. However, as Star Trek’s Jean-Luc Picard once said, “Things are only impossible until they are not.”
Cain first defeated Smith in the March 1st Republican Primary by netting 48% of the vote to Smith’s 43%. Then in the subsequent runoff, Smith’s desperate campaign concocted outright lies to smear Cain’s personal reputation only to be defeated again, albeit by a closer margin of 23 votes.
Many believed that the race would end there, and Smith even issued a press release conceding the election on election night. However, two days later Smith decided to make one last go at preserving his lobby fueled lifestyle in Austin by demanding a recount.
Unfortunately for Smith, when the votes were recounted both the result and the margin remained the same—another defeat at the hands of Briscoe Cain.
Cain’s victory should be major cause for celebration for conservatives across the Lone Star State. It should also be a major lesson that perhaps some foes aren’t as powerful as they are imagined.