Texas House District 54 incumbent Rep. Scott Cosper, R-Killeen, and challenger Dr. Brad Buckley will go to a runoff election May 22, according to unofficial results from the primary election Tuesday.

House District 54 covers most of western Bell County and Lampasas County.

Cosper received 4,472 votes — for 44.56 percent of the electorate — to Buckley’s 4,173 votes, or 41.58 percent. Larry Smith, of Killeen, received 1,390 votes, or 13.85 percent.

Because no candidate received 50 percent of the vote, the two top vote getters — Cosper and Buckley, of Salado — will go to the May 22 runoff.

Cosper, a first-time state representative and former mayor of Killeen, faced Buckley, a veterinarian and former Killeen school district board member, and Smith, a retired Army captain and contractor.

Cosper and Buckley largely split Lampasas County with 42.02 percent and 42.24 percent of the electorate, respectively.

Cosper led the field in campaign funding, including a massive funding push from two political action committees tied to former Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus. Straus, of San Antonio, announced his retirement in late 2017 after four terms as speaker.

The Republican nominee will go on to face Democrat Kathy Richerson, who ran unopposed, in the Nov. 6 general election.

The scene was similar to the November 2016 election in which Cosper defeated Democratic candidate Sandra Blankenship to take the District 54 seat. It was a bit more relaxed, however, by Cosper's admission, and though he spent the day holding signs outside of polling places, he said that there were no pre-results jitters. 

"We've just got to wait and see when they're in," he said.

Buckley started his day campaigning in Lampasas, hit Harker Heights and Killeen in the afternoon, and finished in his hometown of Salado. Being up against an incumbent isn't easy, but Buckley spent his last few days trying to make his sales pitch to the voters who might be on the fence about him.

"It’s always going to be resources, we can’t raise the kind of money that my opponent has raised," he said. "But I tell you what, It makes you focus on what campaigning is about, it’s about people and it’s about doing the work."

District 55

In Texas House District 55, incumbent Rep. Hugh Shine, R-Temple, will have a second consecutive term in office after beating his two GOP challengers outright in the Tuesday primary.

District 55 encompasses the majority of eastern Bell County and a slice of northern Killeen.

Shine, who received 6,907 votes — or 60.18 percent — faced C.J. Grisham, of Temple, the founder of Open Carry Texas, and the Rev. Brandon Hall, the pastor of Cavalry Chapel in Temple. No Democrat filed in the race.

Grisham gathered 2,113 votes, or 18.41 percent, while Hall gathered 2,457 votes, or 21.41 percent.

Shine, who received a 100 percent voting record on anti-abortion and natural death legislation during the 85th Legislature and special session in 2017 from the Texas Alliance for Life PAC, has been the target of conservative groups attacking his record on spending and other issues.

"I think the community has definitely supported me because of my experience," Shine said before the results were in. "All the things I’ve been involved with in this community…that kind of experience is critical to take to Austin."

Grisham has received financial support from Empower Texas, a conservative nonprofit funded group funded by oilman Tim Dunn and conservative Michael Quinn Sullivan, and Texas House District 92 Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, a member of the House Freedom Caucus. He spent much of his Tuesday in Troy, as he wanted to go somewhere candidates traditionally didn't pay much attention to.

"I worked hard, I beat the streets I tried to get my message out there, and hopefully it just caught on," he said. "I forced the conversation if I did nothing else…I’m not a politician so this stuff is all new to me."

Hall, who has seen endorsements from Tarrant County Tea Party advocates, said Shine’s financial support and endorsements from Speaker of the House Joe Straus revealed a lack of conservative principles.

With no Democrat in the race, the winner of the primary will likely be elected to the seat in November.

House District 59

Incumbent Texas House District 59 Rep. Dr. J.D. Sheffield, R-Gatesville, led the way in Coryell County unofficial final results with 3,080 votes, or 63.62 percent of the vote.

District 59 encompasses eight Central Texas counties — Comanche, Coryell, Erath, Hamilton, McCullough, Mills, San Saba and Somervell. Final unofficial results for all the counties were unavailable at press time.

Sheffield’s challenger, Chris Evans, of Dublin, the owner of a custom cabinet store, gathered 1,761 votes.

With no Democrat in the race, the winner of the primary will likely be elected to the seat in November.

U.S. District 31

Eight-term incumbent Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, had a heavy lead over his challenger in Bell County unofficial results for the Republican nomination with 12,678 votes, or 71.73 percent of the electorate.

Carter faced a familiar opponent in Mike Sweeney, of Georgetown, a Chisholm Trail Special Utility District board member who squared off against Carter in the 2016 Republican primary.

Sweeney gathered 4,997 votes.

Four Democrats are facing off for the nomination in District 31 with Mary Jennings “M.J.” Hegar leading the way in early Bell County polling with 3,056 votes, or 47.16 percent.

Hegar, of Cedar Park, an Air Force veteran and author, outraised Carter from Jan. 26 to Feb. 24 and previously outpaced the field in individual contributions.

Hegar, author of a bestselling autobiography on her exploits as a medevac helicopter pilot during three tours in Afghanistan, is the only combat veteran in the race.

Of the other Democrats, Dr. Christine Eady Mann, of Cedar Park, a family physician, gathered 1,650 Bell County votes or 25.46 percent.

Kent Lester, of Cedar Park, a former Belton school teacher and retired lieutenant colonel in the Army Quartermaster Corps, gathered 1,155 Bell County votes, or 17.82 percent.

Mike Clark, of Georgetown, a longtime party Democrat in Williamson County, gathered 619 votes, of 9.55 percent.

U.S. District 25

The Democratic race to challenge Republican incumbent Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, was inconclusive at press time with 17 percent of precincts reporting.

Candidates are attorney and medical professional Julie Oliver, businesswoman Kathi Thomas, defense attorney Chris Perri, social worker West Hansen and economist Chetan Panda.

kyleb@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7567

(2) comments

TexaSoldier

This election showed how weak cosper is as a candidate. If you look at the Republican races, the incumbents are regularly winning with over 50% of the votes and a lot of them with over 65%. For local examples, J.D. Sheffield (TX Dist 59) won with 63.62 percent of the vote, Hugh Shine with over 60%, and John Carter with almost 72% in the congressional race. Cosper didnt even get 45% of the votes and that is a very poor showing for an incumbent. Cospers poor results are even more magnified if you calculate the amount of dollars he spent per every vote received (4,472) as compared to Buckley. Cosper is a very vulnerable candidate in the runoff if you consider which candidate Smith's voters will likely go with for the runoff.

don76550

Cosper is trying to lie his way into office. He voted to tax nursing home beds despite a flyer claiming otherwise. He sent out a mailing featuring our governor, claiming to support his agenda, when in fact he did not, and voted for a house speaker who opposed that agenda. Greg Abbott has not endorsed Cosper and Cosper's flyer implying otherwise is a lie. We need to get RINO Cosper out of office.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.