Brent Golemon almost pulled off a historic comeback in February 2015, when he almost overcame a 22-point deficit going into a special runoff election. Rep. John Cyrier (R-Lockhard) held off a furious charge from the Bastrop business owner to win the seat vacated by former Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt (R-Lexington), 52%-48%. In the special election, Cyrier received 46%, well ahead of Golemon’s 22%.
Only once since at least 1992 has a second-place finisher in a special election overcome a deficit of at least 15 points to win a runoff, and no one has overcome one greater than 20 points.
Largest Special Runoff Election Comebacks Since 1992
- Jose Menendez – 17.9% (SD26, 2015)
- Joan Huffman – 12.3% (SD17, 2008)
- Leighton Schubert – 10.7% (HD17, 2015)
- John Raney – 8.7% (HD14, 2011)
- Brian Birdwell – 8.5% (SD22, 2010)
- Celia Israel – 7.4% (HD50, 2013)
Golemon more than doubled his vote total from the special election (3,821 vs. 1,867) but still lost by 318 votes. His biggest gains were in Bastrop Co., the district’s largest, comprising just over half of the votes cast, and Lee County. He won those two counties by 16 and 42 percent, respectively, but received just 26% of the vote in the other three counties.
There’s other history to this race. Since 1959, Bastrop Co. has been represented by someone from another county. The last Bastrop Co. resident elected to the House was Herschel Sherrill (D-McDade) in 1956. He served a single term. The last House member from the city of Bastrop was John V. Ash, who served a single term from 1935 to 1937.
This is one of three primaries involving a rematch from a recent special election (The other two are SD26 and HD116.). We have not found a recent historical instance of special elections being “re-run” as primaries. Primary rematches of previous primary elections are not uncommon. There are seven in 2015. Unlike pure primary rematches, which tend to draw from the same pool of voters, a special election rematch draws from a different pool of voters.
About 23% more people voted in the 2012 Republican primary in the district’s five counties than in the special runoff election. The geographic balance of those voters shifts slightly from the special runoff election. Gonzales Co. (+5.1%) gains mostly at the expense of Karnes Co. (-3.8%), but the overall balance of power remains in Bastrop and Caldwell Cos., together comprising seven out of every 10 voters.
Source of Votes for 2015 Special Runoff Election
- Bastrop Co. 50.3% 50.3%
- Caldwell Co. 20.1% 20.1%
- Lee Co. 13.2% 13.2%
- Gonzales Co. 9.3% 9.3%
- Karnes Co. 7.1% 7.1%
Source of Votes for 2012 Republican Primary
- Bastrop Co. 51.7% 51.7%
- Caldwell Co. 18.9% 18.9%
- Lee Co. 11.8% 11.8%
- Gonzales Co. 14.4% 14.4%
- Karnes Co. 3.3% 3.3%
Cyrier, a Lockhart businessman and former Caldwell Co. Commissioner, represented his county on the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization for five years. He helped lead emergency response and recovery efforts for the 2011 wildfires that devastated large swaths of Caldwell and Bastrop Cos. Golemon serves on a Bastrop County Water District board and has several connections to the Capitol. He served as a legislative aide and co-founded the legislative information service GalleryWatch.
Cyrier enjoyed a significant advantage in campaign contributions during the special election, and his status as an incumbent should continue to provide him with a strong campaign finance edge.
New campaign finance reports are due on Friday, and these will provide our first insight into their resources for the primary.
Before the special election, we noted:
“Cyrier has clearly been focused on Bastrop Co. Among the first endorsements he announced were Bastrop Co. Judge Paul Pape and Bastrop Co. Comm. Clara Beckett. He has also received endorsements from superintendents of HD17’s largest school districts and major rural interests, including the Texas Farm Bureau and the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Assoc. It is a necessary formula for an outsider to achieve success in a Bastrop-anchored district. Cyrier may live in a different county, but his campaign has been aimed at Bastrop Co., which represents half of all votes cast in recent cycles.”
Cyrier also received endorsements from at least one school district superintendent from each county, For this campaign, Crier’s website does not currently list any endorsements. Golemon’s website lists several conservative activist and group endorsements, including Texas Eagle Forum’s Cathie Adams, Dr. Steven Hotze and the Texas Home School Coalition PAC. His website also indicates Golemon has been endorsed by most of the precinct chairs in Bastrop and Gonzales Cos.
Golemon appears to be running to the right of Cyrier. Doing so produced a mixed bag of results in the 2014 primary. HD17 voters preferred Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (34%) to Sen. Dan Patrick (29%), Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson (20%) and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples (17%) in the LTGOV race. They also preferred Sen. Ken Paxton (40%) to Rep. Dan Branch (34%) and Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman (25%). In the RRC race, they preferred former Rep. Wayne Christian (42%) to Ryan Sitton (28%), Becky Berger (23%) and Malachi Boyuls (8%). It remains to be seen whether other conservative groups will back Golemon, and whether Golemon can continue to attract the support of local party activists.
We expect this race to be competitive.