Updated: Former Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands) announces bid for the seat.

Two-term Rep. Mark Keough (R-The Woodlands) announced he would run for Montgomery County Judge, forgoing re-election to the House. “The last two legislative sessions have impressed upon me the critical role county governance plays in the lives of Texas families,” Keough said in a statement. “It has also made me reconsider where I have the best opportunity to serve our area.”

Rep. Mark Keough

Rep. Mark

Keough announced the endorsements of Pat and Dennis Tibbs of the Montgomery County Tea Party and Lynn and Bill O’Sullivan of the Texas Patriot PAC.

HD15 was open entering the 2014 election cycle because its incumbent, former Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands) opted to make an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate. Keough defeated Bruce Tough, the then-chair of The Woodlands Township’s council, in the 2014 Republican primary, 57%-43%, and was unopposed in the general election. He was unopposed for re-election in 2016.

Endorsed by Empower Texans prior to his 2014 primary, he was one of 19 members to vote for former Rep. Scott Turner (R-Frisco) for House Speaker in 2015. Two years later, he gave one of the seconding speeches for Speaker Joe Straus’s nomination, drawing the ire of the group.

Craig Doyal, the current county judge, was suspended last year by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct in the wake of being indicted on several misdemeanor counts of violating open meetings laws. The case was dismissed in April. Doyal has a fundraising event scheduled for June 20, according to his Facebook page.

Update (4:30 p.m.): Shortly after Keough announced his intentions, Toth tweeted that he would seek the Republican nomination for his old seat.

Toth said in a statement that he had already been endorsed by The Woodlands Township board chair Gordy Bunch and five of the other six board members.

Toth ousted five-term incumbent Rep. Rob Eissler (R-The Woodlands) in the 2012 Republican primary and easily defeated a Libertarian candidate in the general election. He opted against a re-election bid and instead ran in the special election for SD4, losing to then-Rep. Brandon Creighton in the runoff, 67%-33%. In 2016, Toth unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands) in the Republican primary, receiving 37% of the vote.

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