This article begins a series to breakdown and analyze the results of the 2016 Texas GOP Primary from a liberty point of view.
The Texas Primary for the Democratic and Republican Parties concluded on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. Dozens of critical races were on the ballot across the state that would determine the direction of Texas governance for at least the next two years.
It was a devastating night for the liberty movement (LM). Filled with enthusiasm going into early voting and Election Day, LM influencers and candidates were expecting a dramatic remake of the Texas House of Representatives, and a dramatic shift in potential legislation in favor of liberty bills. Following the voting results across the state, it’s apparent that those hopes have been soundly crunched. The chance to see a more liberty-driven Texas legislative session in 2017 is greatly diminished.
The shakeout of the returns means that the status quo, the Plutocracy, is actually strengthened. With six runoffs that include a LM candidate, there still is a chance to capture a few seats. However, even if the LM candidates run the table on the runoff elections, the percentage improvement of seats held by LM reps will be miniscule in comparison to what was anticipated.
The close of the filing window back in December, 2015 produced 40 races in which a member of the elected Liberty Caucus was defending their seat as an incumbent, was a challenger to an incumbent Straus-ian, or was vying for an open seat.
The current membership of the Liberty Caucus in the Texas House of Representatives is 19 out of 150 total seats and 98 seats occupied by Republicans. They are primarily defined by their outstanding and consistent RER Liberty Score and other legislative scorecards, and their refusal to support Joe Straus as Speaker.
The goal for the 2016 primary was to dramatically expand the membership of the Liberty Caucus for the 2017 session when, perhaps, they could actually get liberty legislation passed versus being relegated to the role of being killers of bad anti-liberty bill, primarily.
Seven Liberty Caucus incumbents faced aggressive challenges from the Straus-ian left. Five were victorious and retain their seats for the 2017 legislative session. Happy race results:
HD106 Pat Fallon (R-Frisco RER92) 83% Trent Trubenbach 17%
HD115 Matt Rinaldi (R-Dallas RER99) 53% Bennett Ratliff 47%
HD92 Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford RER99) 58% Scott Fisher 42%
HD94 Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington RER96) 58% Andrew Piel 42%
HD96 Bill Zedler (R-Arlington RER93) 72% Wesley Nelson 28%
Two very special Liberty Caucus freshmen were defeated. Tragic one and done race results:
HD4 Dr. Stuart Spitzer (R-Athens RER95) 48% Lance Gooden 52%
HD55 Molly White (R-Belton RER96) 49.7% Hugh Shine 50.3%
On the 2016 GOP primary ballot, there were 31 challengers to incumbent supporters of Speaker Joe Straus and earned unacceptable scores, or were attempting to fill a vacated seat.
Three Straus-ian seats were captured by LM candidates. LM upset race results:
HD60 To fill the vacated seat of State Rep. Jim Keffer (R-Grandbury RER52)
Mike Lang (LM) 54% Kevin Downing (Straus-ian) 46%
HD20 Terry Wilson (LM) 54% Dr. Marsha Farney (R-Georgetown RER53) 46%
HD150 Valoree Swanson (LM) 52% Debbie Riddle (R-Spring RER61) 40%
Swanson won and “The Riddler” was crushed, outright, with four candidates in the race.
24 challenger races went down to defeat. 2016 LM Massacre race results:
HD1 Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston RER56) 62% George Lavender 38%
HD2 Dan Flynn (R-Canton RER86) 51% Bryan Slaton 49%
HD7 Jay Dean (Straus-ian) Open Seat 58% David Watts (LM) 42%
HD8 Byron Cook (R-Corsicana RER56) 50.4% Thomas McNutt 49.6%
HD11 Travis Clardy (R-Nacogdoches RER56) 86% Tony Sevilla 14%
HD12 Kyle Kacal (R-Bryan RER52) 70% Defeated two challengers
HD14 John Raney (R-Bryan RER49) 69% Jess Fields 31%
HD17 John Cyrier (R-Bastrop RER78) 65% Brent Goleman 35%
HD47 Paul Workman (R-Austin RER61) 61% Jay Wiley 39%
HD54 Larry S. Smith (LM) Open Seat 21% Didn’t make runoff in field of 3
HD58 DeWayne Burns (R- Cleburne RER76) 54% Philip Eby 46%
HD59 Dr. J.D. Sheffield (R- Gatesville RER39) 62% Brent Graves 38%
HD65 Ron Simmons (R- Carrollton RER78) 83% Ben Kissling 17%
HD81 Brooks Landgraf (R- Odessa RER76) 68% Joshua Crawford 32%
HD84 John Frullo (R- Odessa RER61) 55% Jim Lantroop 45%
HD89 Jodie Laubenberg (R- Murphy RER86) 71% Dalton Lytle, Jr. 29%
HD99 Charlie Geren (R- Fort Worth RER56) 58% Bo French 42%
HD112 Angie Chen Button (R- Richardson RER71) 77% Chris DeHart 23%
HD113 Cindy Burkett (R- Garland RER63) 56% Jonathan Boos 44%
HD114 Jason Villalba (R-Dallas RER55) 55% Dan Morenoff 45%
HD121 Joe Straus (R-Alamo Heights RER0) 60% Defeated two LM opponents
HD127 Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood RER56) 78% Mitchell Bosworth 22%
HD130 Tom Oliverson (Straus-ian) Open Seat 70% Kay Smith (LM) 30%
HD134 Sarah Davis (R-Houston RER42) 60% David Palmer 40%
Six LM candidates earned enough votes to advance to a runoff. Four are for open seats and two are attempting to unseat Straus-ians.
HD73 Doug Miller (R- New Braunfels RER56) 43% Kyle Biedermann (LM) 40%
HD128 Wayne Smith (R- Baytown RER50) 44% Briscoe Cain (LM) 48%
HD5 Cole Hefner (LM) Open Seat 46% Jay Misenheimer 27%
HD18 Keith Strahan (LM) Open Seat 28% Ernest Biles 26%
HD33 John Keating (LM) Open Seat 38% Justin Holland 33%
HD64 Read King (LM) Open Seat 30% Lynn Stuckey 42%
The sum of the election is that two Liberty Caucus members were defeated while three LM candidates were successful in unseating two Straus-ian incumbents and one seat that was previously held by a Straus-ian. The LM currently has picked up one seat, or 20 anti-Straus votes, with the runoffs yet to come.
The Win Rate? Eight out of 40 for .200, so far and going into the runoffs. That’s a minor league batting average, when you’re facing major league competition.
The 2016 Texas GOP Primary was not a good day for Texas liberty.
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