Despite losing the Bell County vote, Dr. Brad Buckley won the Texas House District 54 seat with a big boost from Lampasas County voters, according to final, unofficial results Tuesday.
Buckley, R-Salado, a Killeen veterinarian, took the seat with nearly 80 percent of the vote in Lampasas County and 53.8 percent of the electorate overall with 25,924 votes.
This will be Buckley’s first term at the state Legislature in Austin after defeating incumbent Rep. Scott Cosper, R-Killeen, in a May 22 runoff for the GOP nomination.
Meanwhile, Kathy Richerson, a lightly funded Democrat from rural Bell County, pulled 51 percent of the vote in Bell County and 46.2 percent of the vote overall — or 22,222 votes.
In comments to his supporters at the Bell County Expo Center, Buckley alluded to the tight race and thanked them for their help.
“Eighteen months ago, most of y’all were a contact number on my phone that other folks had given me because they thought you were someone who could help, and at every chance you did,” Buckley said. “I just didn’t know how much help I would need.”
Richerson could not be reached for comment.
Buckley, a former Killeen Independent School District board member, has run a campaign focusing on improving Texas public education and boosting the economy in Bell County. Buckley is a co-chairman for the 14 Forward private investment initiative, a Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce push to drive economic growth on the Interstate 14 corridor.
Richerson, a rural goat farmer and former Realtor, has run a quiet, lightly funded campaign that focused on courting Democrats in heavy-red Lampasas County.
In the closing weeks of the race, Buckley held a massive fundraising lead on his competitor as state political action committee contributions flooded into his campaign’s coffers.
In the most recently filing period, Buckley reported nearly $79,000 raised between Sept. 28 and Oct. 27. By contrast, Richerson, reported around $15,000 in contributions — almost all of which was an in-kind contribution for digital advertising — and recorded zero expenditures in the last month.
Despite that fundraising deficit, Richerson performed even better in Bell County than the last Democrat who ran for the District 54 seat.
In November 2016, Sandra Blankenship, D-Killeen, received 49.7 percent of the Bell County vote to Cosper’s 50.3 percent.
Similar to Tuesday, Cosper swept Lampasas County with 79 percent of the vote, narrowly edging Blankenship districtwide.