A sweeping win in Bell County voting precincts Tuesday helped propel Dr. Brad Buckley, the unofficial GOP nominee for the Texas House District 54 election, to an upset runoff victory over incumbent Rep. Scott Cosper.
On Tuesday, Buckley, of Salado, won 18 of 20 district voting precincts in Bell County, with overwhelming leads in Salado and rural county precincts south of Killeen.
Buckley, a veterinarian, received 2,889 total votes in Bell County — or 57.7 percent of the electorate — to Cosper’s 2,117 votes.
In Precinct 203, which surrounds the village of Salado and had a 20 percent turnout, Buckley received 781 votes, or 63.4 percent of the electorate.
In Precincts 409 and 413, in far south and west Killeen, Buckley won 64.66 and 64.76 percent of the electorate, respectively.
The single largest gap between the two candidates was in Precinct 405, in west Killeen, where Buckley received 66 percent of the electorate.
District 54 also includes Lampasas County, where Buckley outpolled Cosper 1,556 votes to 1,068 in final, unofficial results. Lampasas County votes are at large, with no voting precincts.
Cosper, a first-term state representative and former mayor of Killeen, won only one Killeen precinct — 203, near Interstate and Trimmier Road — and a small voting precinct southeast of Belton.
In the precincts with the highest number of voters, particularly around Nolanville and Harker Heights, Buckley’s margins of victory were closer but still authoritative.
In Precinct 209 in southern Harker Heights, Buckley received 258 votes, or 59 percent of the electorate. In Precinct 111, centered around Nolanville, Buckley received 213 votes, or 54.62 percent of the vote.
Buckley’s results in Bell County were a huge change in fortune for the newcomer, who achieved a nearly 16-point voter swing in the past two and a half months.
During the March 6 primary, Buckley received 2,854 votes in Bell County, or 41.58 percent of the electorate. Cosper, meanwhile, was the top vote getter with 3,174 votes, or 45.76 percent of the electorate. Third-place finisher Larry Smith, of Killeen, received 13.09 percent of the vote.
Cosper did not respond to the Herald but thanked his supporters on Facebook on Tuesday and called for unity.
“Now is the time to put the competition of the campaign behind us and unite as a community,” he wrote. “At the end of the day, all we want is for Central Texas to remain the best place to live, work, and raise a family.”
The District 54 race was one of a kind this year, as Cosper was the only incumbent House Republican to face a challenger in the runoff phase.
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.
Since Jan. 26 Cosper received $191,400 in contributions from two political action committees — the House Leadership Fund and the Associated Republicans of Texas Campaign Fund — which were primarily funded by Straus in 2018. Those contributions made up around 51 percent of Cosper’s combined campaign contributions during that time.
Buckley ran a relatively lightly funded campaign with minimal PAC support. Between Feb. 25 and May 12, Cosper outraised Buckley by a nearly 5-to-1 margin.
Buckley will go on to face Democrat Kathy Richerson, of rural Bell County, in the Nov. 6 general election. Richerson was unopposed in the March 6 primary.
Read the Sunday Herald for more analysis on the Texas House District 54 election.