Texas GOP primary runoffs result in victory for school choice, says Gov. Abbott

In a significant development, Governor Greg Abbott announced on Tuesday night that the Texas state legislature has secured enough votes to effectively pass school choice initiatives. This comes after the Republican primary runoff election held earlier in the day. The outcome of the election has provided the necessary support for advancing school choice measures in the state.

“The Texas Legislature has gained sufficient votes to approve school choice, marking a significant triumph for families across our great state,” declared Abbott. This achievement comes after a series of Republican pro-school choice candidates challenged and defeated anti-choice incumbents in the March 5 primary and recent runoff elections.

“While we may not have emerged victorious in every race we contested, the underlying message from this year’s primaries is unmistakable: Texans are in favor of school choice,” declared Abbott. “Those who oppose the idea of school choice can no longer dismiss the desires of the people. As we cast our gaze towards the upcoming November general election, we will persistently strive to elect capable and conservative candidates who will guarantee that every child in Texas is able to avail the finest education possible, irrespective of their geographical location or financial circumstances. By joining forces and collaborating, we will forge a future that is even more promising for future generations.”

Severe storms on Tuesday resulted in the extension of polling hours beyond the 7 p.m. closing deadline. Several polling locations were still open as of 10:30 pm local time, with many races yet to be officially called.

The Associated Press has announced the winners in races where 99% of the votes have been counted, including one of the most closely watched races involving House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont.

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Phelan emerged victorious in his race with a slim margin of 50.7% to 49.3%, prevailing over his opponent David Covey by a mere 400 votes. This outcome dealt a blow to the aspirations of conservative activists who had fervently sought to oust him in a contentious and costly primary contest.

During his victory remarks on Tuesday night, Phelan expressed his immense gratitude to the voters of Southeast Texas. He emphasized that in Southeast Texas, they are determined to set their own course and that their community is not for sale. Phelan acknowledged the unwavering dedication of every voter and volunteer who played a crucial role in turning their vision into a resounding victory.

On Tuesday night, Abbott made significant progress towards his goal of implementing school choice in Texas by securing important victories in other races.

In the previous year, a school choice bill that was repeatedly passed by the Texas Senate faced opposition from 21 House Republicans. Following the conclusion of the legislative session, 16 of these Republicans ran for re-election, while the remaining five retired from their positions.

During the primary season, Abbott actively supported and campaigned for candidates who shared his belief in school choice. This included endorsing and rallying behind challengers to incumbent Republicans, who were previously backed by Abbott but did not align with his stance on this issue.

In the March 5 primary election, candidates in favor of school choice emerged victorious, according to a report by The Center Square. Six Republican lawmakers who were against school choice lost their seats outright, while four others were pushed into a runoff election by candidates supporting school choice. Additionally, four pro-school choice candidates triumphed in races for open seats.

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In Tuesday’s runoff election, it seems that three Republican incumbents, who were challenged by candidates in favor of school choice, have likely been defeated. DeWayne Burns (HD-58), Justin Holland (HD-33), and John Kuempel (HD-44) were all facing tough competition. Helen Kerwin managed to secure 57.5% of the vote, surpassing Burns’ 42.5%. Similarly, Katrina Pierson emerged as the projected nominee, defeating Holland with 56.4% compared to his 43.6%. In the case of John Kuempel, Alan Schoolcraft was leading with 55.3% against Kuempel’s 44.7% vote share.

The vote totals remain unofficial until they are certified.

Gary VanDeaver appears to have emerged victorious in HD 1, defeating his challenger Chris Spencer with a commanding lead of 53.1% to 46.5% of the votes.

In HD 29, Jeffrey Barry emerged as the projected nominee, surpassing Alex Kamkar, who was endorsed by Abbott and supported school choice. Similarly, in HD 61, Karesa Richardson secured the projected nomination, defeating Frederick Frazier, who was also endorsed by Abbott and advocated for school choice.

Trey Wharton, running in HD 12, is expected to emerge victorious in his race. Similarly, Andy Hopper, competing in HD 64, seems to have secured a win in his race. Another pro-school choice candidate, Lea Simmons in HD 76, also appears to have come out on top. However, it is important to note that none of these candidates have been officially declared winners as of late Tuesday.

As of 10:30 pm local time, there were still several races that were too close to determine a winner. In some other races, only a small percentage of votes had been counted.

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Several Republican candidates supported by Abbott emerged victorious in their respective races. This includes the success of former state Representative Craig Goldman, who won the runoff election for an open seat in Congress in HD 12. Additionally, Brent Hagenbuch emerged victorious in his state Senate SD 30 race.

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