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.  

RER HOT CLIP Texas GOP Primary Analysis Texas House

Team RER

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