It’s Runoff Day today for the legislative special elections, and this overview of the HD17 runoff gives a good idea of what to expect from the winner in that race.
As Republicans John Cyrier and Brent Golemon prepare to settle the score Tuesday, that ho-hum first round seems like the distant past. The once low-key affair has turned into an increasingly bitter runoff that has exposed intra-party divisions and highlighted political fault lines in the largely rural, Central Texas district.
“It’s has been one the more contentious political campaigns in my recollection for Bastrop County or for District 17, particularly since there was no clear winner in the special election and then the runoff was delayed for a few weeks,” said Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape, one of the highest-ranking Republicans in the district. “Each side kind of had more time to state their case and try to build their, excite their constituencies.”
Cyrier, a Lockhart construction executive and former Caldwell County commissioner, emerged as the top vote-getter in the Jan. 6 special election for the district, which spans five counties. Kleinschmidt, a Republican from Lexington, vacated the seat to serve as general counsel for the Texas Department of Agriculture.
Cyrier is favored to ride his first-round momentum to victory Tuesday, potentially notching a win for the more moderate faction of the Texas GOP that suffered some high-profile losses in last year’s primaries. From the outset of the race, Cyrier has pitched himself as an unabashed bridge-builder while Golemon has emphasized his conservative credentials.
On the issues, Golemon has sought to distinguish himself as a more forceful supporter of education reform and anti-abortion policies. He supports a ban on abortion without exceptions, while Cyrier believes an abortion should be allowed if a mother’s life is at risk. On school choice – a top priority of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick – Golemon has offered his full-throated support, while Cyrier has expressed concern about how it would impact rural schools.
Perhaps the most notable contrast has been Cyrier’s decision to strike a decisively bipartisan tone in what is effectively a GOP primary. [Mark] Jones, the political science professor, called it the “most prominent storyline of the campaign,” a departure from other intra-party faceoffs in which each candidates race to the right.
See here for some background. It’s interesting that Golemon hasn’t drawn the kind of big money support from the professional nihilist crowd that a candidate with his talking points in a race like this usually gets. I’m not sure what’s up with that – if it’s worth spending big bucks for a marginal potential upgrade in a Democratic Senate district, you’d think it’d be worth a few bucks for a more clear upgrade here, with a presumably more receptive audience. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, just a little puzzled. We’ll know soon enough if those folks will have any reason to regret sitting this one out.