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Major wins and upsets in Tuesday’s runoff election

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(The Center Square) – There were major wins and several upsets in Tuesday’s runoff election, according to unofficial election results published by the Texas Secretary of State’s Office. Final election results will be certified by counties June 6.

One of the biggest wins of the night was the issue of school choice after multiple Republican pro-school choice candidates challenged anti-choice incumbents and won, The Center Square reported. This is after school choice won big in the March 5 primary election.

“The Texas state legislature now has enough votes to pass school choice initiatives after Tuesday’s Republican primary runoff election,” Gov. Greg Abbott, who has been championing school choice and campaigning for pro-school choice candidates, said. “While we did not win every race we fought in, the overall message from this year’s primaries is clear: Texans want school choice.”

The most closely watched race was in southeast Texas where incumbent House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, defeated his challenger, David Covey, by 366 votes. Phelan also defeated special interest money pouring in from outside House District 21 and far-right activists attempting to unseat him who were angered by his support for the impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton. Sixty House Republicans voted to impeach Paxton on 20 counts last Memorial Day weekend, making him the first attorney general to be impeached in Texas history. He was acquitted by the Texas Senate.

Turnout for the March primary election was lower than it was in 2020, but Republican voter turnout surpassed Democratic turnout, according to Texas Secretary of State data.

Several key issues motivated Republican primary voters, including school choice and impeachment. Abbott’s endorsements also played a role according to polling.

Key races of Abbott-endorsed pro-school choice candidates include Katrina Pierson defeating incumbent state Rep. Justin Holland in HD 33, Alan Schoolcraft defeating incumbent state Rep. John Kuempel in HD 44, and Helen Kerwin defeating incumbent state Rep. DeWayne Burns in HD 54.

Pro-school choice, Abbott-endorsed John McQueeney also defeated Cheryl Bean in HD 97 in Fort Worth to fill a seat vacated by state Rep. Craig Goldman. Abbott-endorsed Goldman won his primary runoff election Tuesday to fill outgoing U.S. Rep. Kay Granger’s seat in the 12th Congressional district. He defeated John O’Shea, whose campaign publicized false endorsements, The Center Square reported.

Pro-school choice, Abbott-endorsed Brent Hagenbuch won his runoff election for the Texas Senate, defeating Jace Yarbrough to fill an open seat vacated by state Sen. Drew Springer in SD 30.

Several of Abbott’s endorsed candidates lost in key races, including Chris Spencer, who was defeated by incumbent state Rep. Gary VanDeaver in HD 1; Alex Kamkar, who lost to Jeff Barry in HD 29, and small businessman Jeff Bauknight, who lost to embattled former Jackson County Sheriff AJ Lauderback.

Lauderback’s colleagues in neighboring counties refused to join an Operation Lone Star Task Force led by Goliad County Sheriff Roy Boyd, The Center Square reported. One of them, Lavaca County Sheriff Micah Harmon, was unseated Tuesday night by Abbott-endorsed challenger Steve Greenwell. The former Lavaca County Justice of the Peace and former Homeland Security Investigations supervisory special agent, Greenwell previously worked with Boyd for years and will join the task force once elected and sworn into office, he said.

Perhaps one of the biggest upsets of the night was incumbent state Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, who lost to David Lowe in HD 91. Lowe, who came under fire for and justified owning porn and gambling website domains, was supported by far-right activists angered over Klick’s vote to impeach Paxton.

Klick was described as a conservative stalwart by Abbott and endorsed by multiple conservative groups, including pro-life and law enforcement organizations.

In HD 61, Keresa Richardson defeated incumbent state Rep. Frederick Frazier, R-McKinney, who voted to impeach Paxton and had been dishonorably discharged from the Dallas Police Department.

Abbott-endorsed state Rep. Lynn Stucky, R-Denton, who voted to impeach Paxton, was unseated by pro-school choice candidate Andy Hopper in HD 64.

Klick, Frazier and Stucky were only a few Republican House incumbents who lost their primary reelection races after voting to impeach Paxton. The majority who voted to impeach Paxton and ran for reelection won their primary races, The Center Square reported.

Two major upsets in Democratic races occurred Tuesday night. In HD 146, incumbent state Rep. Shawn Thierry was trounced by challenger and union organizer Lauren Ashley Simmons in Houston. Thierry, a child advocate, was targeted by challengers after supporting a bill the Texas legislature passed last year to ban gender-altering surgeries and procedures on minors, arguing they are harmful.

In HD 80, Rosie Cuellar, the sister of U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, who was recently indicted on public corruption charges, lost to Cecilia Castellano in an open seat in rural south Texas. Rep. Cuellar denies the charges.

In a closely watched race in Houston, state Sen. Molly Cook narrowly defeated state Rep. Jarvis Johnson to fill a vacated seat in SD 15. The seat was held for 40 years by former state Sen. John Whitmire after he was elected Houston’s new mayor.

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