By Justin Cox
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON – With four candidates vying for the Republican nomination in the District 55 Texas House race, a runoff was a foregone conclusion.
Temple residents Martha Tyroch and Ralph Sheffield were the two leading vote-getters Tuesday and will face off in an April 8 runoff election.
Tyroch received 5,136 votes, or 36.1 percent, to Sheffield's 4,420 votes, or 31.1 percent.
Challengers Mike Pearce of Harker Heights and John Alaniz of Temple trailed in the balloting with 2,899 votes and 1,758 votes, respectively.
Tyroch, who spent seven years on the Temple City Council, the last two as mayor pro tem, will square off next month against Sheffield, a longtime Temple restaurant owner.
The winner of the runoff will battle for the Republican Party's nomination and the right to face off against Democrat Sam Murphey in the general election in November.
Tyroch said this is exactly where she expected to be.
"With four people in the race and big voter turnout, I have been prepared for a runoff," Tyroch said Tuesday night. "I appreciate the voters coming out and having their voices heard."
Tyroch said her campaign strategy will remain the same over the next month.
"It will not change," Tyroch said. "I will always oppose the Trans-Texas Corridor, and continue to emphasize transportation, border security, education and health care."
Sheffield said the style of his campaign is a tribute to his simple, down-to-earth approach.
"It just shows you what a good, grassroots campaign does," Sheffield said Tuesday night. "Knocking on doors, making phone calls, and getting the feedback from the general public about the border security, runaway appraisal values, and everything I've been preaching about."
Early voting proved to be a precursor for a massive primary election turnout as more than 8,000 votes had been cast and counted by 11 p.m., with 10 precincts still unaccounted for.
From the candidates themselves to election judges to local officials and community leaders, party switching was rampant in this election.
Since the race has been close up to this point, a high turnout is still expected in a runoff election. While voters who didn't make the polls on Tuesday will still be able to cast a vote in the runoff, those who voted on the Democratic ballot Tuesday cannot participate in the Republican election.
Contact Justin Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7568