Austin, TX, 3 hours ago — Central Texas will be a runoff hotbed for the next few months as the GOP nominations for four open House seats have yet to be decided.
The four districts and their matchups are:
- House District (HD) 17 – Stan Gerdes vs. Paul Pape
- HD 19 – Ellen Troxclair vs. Justin Berry
- HD 52 – Patrick McGuinness vs. Caroline Harris
- HD 73 – Barron Casteel vs. Carrie Isaac
When state Rep. John Cyrier (R-Lockhart) announced his retirement, five candidates jumped in to succeed him. Stan Gerdes, the first-place finisher, was a longtime advisor to former governor Rick Perry including during his time as secretary of energy.
Gerdes finished 467 votes ahead of Paul Pape, the Bastrop County judge. The pair were neck and neck on campaign finances, both spending just south of $200,000.
Some high-profile endorsements flowed in for Gerdes from Perry and two U.S. Congressmen, Reps. Pete Sessions (R-TX-17) and Chip Roy (R-TX-21) — while Pape has been endorsed by Cyrier as his successor along with Lockhart Mayor Lew White.
Third-place finisher Tom Glass fell 424 votes shy of Pape for the second runoff spot.
Directly adjacent to HD 17 is HD 52, fully enclosed in Williamson County.
Patrick McGuinness, a technology engineer, finished a comfortable first at 35 percent while Caroline Harris, a staffer for Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), edged out Nelson Jarrin, a former staffer for Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown). Harris finished with 31 percent while Jarrin slipped to 25 percent.
The seat opened after state Rep. James Talarico (D-Round Rock) crossed county lines to run in an open Austin district after redistricting changed HD 52 to favor Republicans.
Education and the growing pains that come with population growth are the race’s biggest issues, as transplants and businesses flock to suburban Williamson County.
The two most heated contests of the group were in HD 19, which stretches from just west of Travis County out to Fredericksburg and Boerne, and HD 73, which encompasses all of Comal County and the western half of Hays.
Former Austin City Councilwoman Ellen Troxclair and Austin Police Officer Justin Berry will duke it out again in HD 19 — continuing the feud between former allies.
Given Berry’s vocation and Republican politics, public safety has been a constant theme in the race, and the two clashed most recently over police unions. Berry accused Troxclair of wanting to “eliminate” police unions in Texas, while Troxclair said she shares policies outlined in the Republican Party of Texas platform that call for more restrictions on all unions.
Nubia Devine, the wife of Texas Supreme Court Justice John Devine, pulled in 21 percent.
The pair is sure not to pull any punches over the next few months as they grapple for the nomination.
In HD 73, former New Braunfels mayor Barron Casteel and Carrie Isaac were separated by less than 1 percent and 241 votes. Isaac, the wife of former state representative Jason Isaac, challenged Rep. Erin Zwiener (D-Driftwood) in 2020 in HD 45.
Among other issues, the two have clashed over property taxes — with Isaac criticizing Casteel’s votes to lower the city’s tax rate but never adopt the no-new-revenue rate.
And they’re endorsed by different sides of the dueling pro-life groups, with Casteel supported by Texas Alliance for Life PAC and Isaac by Texas Right to Life PAC.
With fewer races on the May 24 ballot, more attention will be given to these runoff fights — which means more money will be spent and more rhetorical haymakers will be thrown in all directions.