Six candidates are vying in a special election to fill the unexpired term of former Rep. Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City).
As of Sept. 29, Ben Wheeler administrative director Jill Dutton ($142K) and Greenville attorney Brent Money ($129K) had out-raised the field, and they were also the top two spenders as of that date (Dutton $111K, Money $63K). Sulphur Springs attorney Heath Hyde was third in contributions ($52K) and fourth in expenditures ($33K), narrowly edged out by retired Greenville engineer and Hunt Co. Republican chair Doug Roszhart ($36K).
Money has the backing of Texas Right to Life PAC, True Texas Project, Texas Gun Owners of America, and several current and former lawmakers including former Sen. Don Huffines (R-Dallas) and Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood). The Defend Texas Liberty PAC recently sent a mail piece to potential primary voters accusing Dutton of fundraising from donors to former Democratic gubernatorial nominee Beto O’Rourke. Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton (R) has also endorsed Money, who was a vocal critic of his impeachment.
Dutton has been endorsed by Associated Republicans of Texas PAC, Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC, and Texas Alliance for Life PAC. Hyde has been endorsed by Texas Farm Bureau AGFUND and Texas Parent PAC.
The candidates’ 8-day-out campaign finance reports should provide more clarity on the race, including the level of financial support from the conservative groups endorsing Money. These reports, which disclose contributions received and expenditures made between Sept. 29 and Oct. 28, were due Monday and should be available online the next day.
We expect the race will go to a runoff, likely between Dutton and Money. Former Greenville council member Kristen Washington, the lone Democrat in the race, could conceivably edge out one of the Republicans to make the runoff. In the 2022 general election, O’Rourke received 21% of the vote head-to-head against Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in the district.
Slaton resigned in May ahead of a unanimous House vote to expel him, marking the first time a member had been expelled from the Legislature since 1927.