The Scorched Earth Politics In The Texas House Republican Primaries

The Scorched Earth Politics In The Texas House Republican Primaries

The House Republican primaries are both sad and entertaining.

Last week I debated whether or not to write about what the Republicans were doing in their primaries because it’s an absolute shit show and none of us care about which ones win. (Well, maybe some of us) Then, this morning, I woke up a little earlier than usual and went and laid on the couch in my living room. My husband was in there ironing his pants and watching the local news. I never watch local news in the morning, and I was blown away at the number of political commercials from Republicans calling other Republicans “liberal” and “woke.”

Tim O’Hare, who’s running as Tarrant County Judge, had a commercial about ex-Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, who is also running as a Republican for Tarrant County Judge.

You have to see the commercial, as ridiculous as it is. He called Price a “progressive” who wasted millions on a diversity and inclusion office that “wasted millions on woke Critical Race Theory propaganda.”

Betsy Price progressive? How hard are you laughing?

And the diversity and inclusion stuff is nothing but plain old white supremacy in a county that flipped blue in the last election, and its demographics are 58% people of color.

But they’ll say anything, right?

Then came Ken Paxton’s TV commercial, about Eva Guzman and not himself. I’m guessing that Paxton sees Guzman as the biggest threat in this primary.

In the commercial, he said that Eva Guzman was the most liberal judge and spent our tax dollars on a woke critical race theory summit.

The final words of the commercial were, “Eva Guzman. Liberal. Woke. Wrong.”

It’s hilarious and sad at the same time. These Republicans are running, not on their platforms and accomplishments, but simply on calling their opponents liberals and woke.

It speaks volumes about the Republican Party.

Their only message is hate. They don’t want to do anything for Texas voters, and they want to maintain their white supremacist hold on Texas.

So, after seeing these commercials this morning, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to put a looking glass over the House races which are “safe Republican.” They have a primary election but won’t face any Democrats in the general election.

There are 41 safe Republican seats, of those, 22 are running completely unopposed. This article will cover the 19 Republican primary races whose fate will be decided on March 1.

Go HERE to see Living Blue in Texas’ predictions and analysis of the rest of the House races.

The unopposed Republican seats which are returning to the 88th Legislature are HD04, HD07, HD08, HD10, HD16, HD21, HD25, HD29, HD30, HD32, HD43, HD58, HD59, HD72, HD82, HD86, HD87, HD89, HD96, HD106, HD126, and HD130. (We’ll have to fix that next cycle, Democrats.)


Incumbent Gary VanDeaver (R) has been the Rep. of HD01 for seven years. While he’s a conservative, he hasn’t been on the extreme end of Republicans in the Texas House. Nor has he been at the forefront of the GOP’s racism and oppression. His background is in public education, so he likely won’t vote for abolishing public education.

Running against VanDeaver are George Lavender and Ray Null. Lavender is a previous House Rep and sat in HD1 before Gary VanDeaver. Lavender is running on protecting our borders (because he knows so much about it in Texarkana) and being a true Conservative ( a shot at VanDeaver).

Many of Lavender’s social media posts talk about being more Conservative than VanDeaver.

Then there’s Ray Null, the loony alt-right candidate, who was previously on our radar for causing a commotion when Beto went to Paris. Other than he’s slightly unhinged, there isn’t anything unique or remarkable about Null, except he hasn’t raised any money for his campaign.

All three of these candidates are old white guys in their late 60s.

VanDeaver has raised nearly $300,000 mostly from PACs and special interests, and Lavender has raised almost $15,000 from individual donations. That’s why I’m predicting VanDeaver will win this primary race.


Incumbent Bryan Slaton (R) is a sick man. He spent the entire 87th Legislature obsessing over children’s genitals. He has ties with domestic terrorists and was even presented a gift of a photograph of the domestic terrorists committing racial violence, which he proudly accepted.

Slaton introduced a bill to keep all Jim Crow-era statues in Texas intact and paid for by taxpayer dollars. And all of that barely scratches the surface of how terrible of a person he is.

Yet, the far-right has loved him, elevated him, and kissed the ground he walked on. But, all of his peers hate him, even the Republican ones. Probably because he openly cried about children’s genitals on the House floor, or maybe just because he’s a scumbag.

As far as a legislature, Slaton didn’t get anything done in the Texas House last session, other than alienating all of his coworkers. Unsurprisingly, Slaton has raised nearly $300,000 from PACs, special interests, and Texas oligarchs.

Running against Slaton is Clyde Bostick (R). Bostick is a so-called pastor who thinks that Slaton hasn’t been extreme enough (even though he was the biggest extremist in the 87th) and plans to bring scripture and the word of God to the State Legislature. But, of course, like all hypocritical Republicans, Bostick’s positions are anything but Christian-like. You know, take away women’s constitutional rights and people of color, all while letting madmen run around shooting people up.

Bostic has only raised $12,000 in his campaign, because the far-right slobbers all over Bryan Slaton’s hate politics. I predict Slaton will win re-election.


This heavily gerrymandered district’s incumbent, Cecil Bell Jr. (R), is a millionaire-idiot. He rabidly repeats every word Donald Trump has ever spoken, has called Black people evil, and supports removing Black history from schools.

With only $175,000 in donations, Bell has raised less than many of his counterparts. However, he still has raised much more than his Republican challenger.

Challenging Bell is Kelly McDonald, a Conservative wife, and mother running on the same platform that Bell is running on. Unfortunately, white supremacy, guns for everyone, and lower taxes seem to be the standard Republican platform this year.

However, Republican voters are likely to vote for the millionaire-idiot in higher numbers than they will a woman. That’s just who the GOP is. So, I’m predicting Bell will win re-election.


Incumbent Cole Hefner (R) is married with seven children, but that didn’t stop him from having an alleged affair with fellow House member Lacey Hull (R). That also hasn’t stopped the party of so-called family values from supporting Hefner this campaign season. Although some big-name Texas oligarchs are missing from the list of donations, Hefner has still managed to pull in nearly $200,000 for this election cycle.

His Republican opponent, Dewey Collier (R), is the spitting image of Denton County Sheriff Tracey Murphree. They’re doppelgangers. A few months back, Collier wasn’t afraid to talk about Hefner’s affair on KTRE News. However, Collier hasn’t even brought in $2,000 in campaign cash. I haven’t seen Collier photographed at local Republican events, and he doesn’t even have a website. I predict that Hefner will win re-election.


The alt-right and the extremists on the Texas Freedom Coalition have labeled incumbent Travis Clardy (R) a Rino. Why? Who the fuck knows at this point. They call everyone that they don’t like a Rino, a liberal, or woke. Clardy was an extreme defender of the Confederacy and Jim Crow era statues during the 87th Legislature. This makes him just as racist as the alt-right, but for them, it just isn’t racist enough.

The Texas Freedom Coalition has championed Rachel Hale (R) as Clardy’s would-be replacement. Hale is a wealthy trophy wife of an East Texas entrepreneur who runs on abolishing public education, abolishing Black history, keeping Hispanics out of East Texas, and guns for everyone.

Both Hale and another of Clardy’s challengers, Greg Caldwell (R), have raised about $35,000.

Like every other Republican running for office, Caldwell calls himself “a true Conservative.” According to his website, he wants to go to the Texas House to fight against “cultural Marxism” and “abusive, progressive parents.” Take a mental note because if this lunatic wins, he’s going to go after the children of anyone who considers themselves progressive. Caldwell is also pro-Texit and calls Covid “fascism.”


The last Republican challenging Clardy is Mark Williams (R). Williams is another millionaire looking to push legislation that will help him financially. Of all the Republicans running for this seat, Williams has raised the least money and doesn’t even appear to have a website. Travis Clardy has raised over $250,000.

I predict that this race will go to a runoff between Travis Clardy and Rachel Hale.


Incumbent Kyle Kacal (R) has a normal body and a big fat head. We don’t believe in body shaming, but we also don’t believe in choosing money over the lives of children, which Kyle Kacal has done multiple times in his career with his pro-shoot everyone stance. There’s a rumor going around right now that Kacal played a racist TV commercial on a local station, but I haven’t been able to find it online. However, he’s a Republican, so nothing surprises me.

Kacal’s position on guns has been to the extreme right of other members in the Texas House GOP. But that hasn’t stopped his opponents from calling him a Rino.

One of Kacal’s challengers, Josh Hamm, has made the Texit pledge, meaning, if elected, he’ll try to commit treason against America.

Hamm’s campaign slogan is “Make Texas Great Again,” but he’s only raised $7,000 for his entire campaign.

The other challenger in HD12 is Ben Bius (R), who doesn’t seem as far out there as some of the other Republicans running, but h’s still a Republican. Bius has raised $134,000 already, which seems like a lot, but Kyle Kacal has raised over $500,000. So, I’m predicting that Kacal will win re-election.


Recently, there has been a little internet chatter regarding incumbent John Raney (R) on the far-right. About what? Unconfirmed rumors about involvement in a newly exposed sex scandal involving other House Republicans. Whether it’s true or not, it’s clear that the far-right has it out for him.

Raney has raised $350,000, but his Republican challenger has also raised a mountain of cash.

John Harvey Slocum (R) says he’s a real Conservative, and Raney is a fake Conservative. Slocum is yet another millionaire white guy with a cowboy hat who is running to “secure borders, lower taxes, and fight CRT.” However, the Republicans in this district seem to like him. He’s personable and charismatic, qualities Raney is missing. I am predicting Slocum will win this primary.


HD18 incumbent Ernest Bailes (R) has also been a target of the far-right and is facing three primary opponents. However, that hasn’t stopped him from raising nearly $470,000. His three primary opponents, Janis Holt, Stephen Missick, and Ronnie Tullos, haven’t raised a combined $15,000.

Money doesn’t always matter, but when you out raise all three of your opponents by over $450,000, it’s safe to say that is a re-election win for Bailes.


HD57 used to be a district in East Texas, but it’s now in Denton County because of redistricting. As a result, three Republicans are vying for this heavily gerrymandered seat.

The clear front runner of this race is Richard Hayes, the ex-chair for Denton County GOP. We have seen the rise of domestic extremism coming from Denton County; Hayes fits in well with his peers. He calls Biden a “radical leftist,” says our “ballot boxes are under siege,” and wants to eliminate Critical Race Theory.

Hayes has raised $250,000 and will win this race. This is great for us because there is plenty there for us to make fun of him. When he goes to the House, you can expect plenty of commentary from Living Blue in Texas.

Also running in this race are two Matthews, Matthew Poole, and Matthew Haines. Poole is the ex-mayor of Ponder, compares Ronald Reagan to Rush Limbaugh, and has only raised $6,000 in this race. Haines is from Iowa and moved down to Texas to be a cowboy.


Most of North Texas has discovered that white supremacists have found a home in Parker County in recent years. So, the level of extremism coming from this race shouldn’t surprise anyone. Incumbent Glenn Rogers (R) is a wealthy land-owner whose family owned a ranch in Palo Pinto County long before Palo Pinto was safe for Black and brown people.

Come to think about it, there are probably some areas in Palo Pinto County that aren’t safe for people of color. And while Rogers has raised over $600,000, he’s not the only wealthy extremist in this race. Michael Olcott (R) is one of Rogers’ challengers. Olcott was behind the Parker County GOP’s efforts to denounce America last year and had deep ties with the local Confederates. Olcott was a research scientist who gave it all up in 2005 to hunt Hispanic people with fellow Minutemen on the border. He now makes Parker County his home and has raised $160,000.

The other two Republican challengers are Kit Marshall and Lucas Turner. Unfortunately, neither has made a big splash, and I’m predicting that HD60 will go to a runoff race between Rogers and Olcott.


Incumbent Reggie Smith (R) faces Criminal Barbie herself, Shelley Luther. It isn’t important who Smith is or what he’s done; Shelley Luther is Satan reincarnated. She has been openly racist, transphobic, hateful, and ignorant. Even though a ton of money poured into this race, Reggie Smith will win the primary.

Yes, the Republican Party has mostly gone off the deep end and has embraced hate. However, the majority of them are still only racists behind closed doors. They won’t appreciate an idiot like Luther blabbing her personal feelings about the AAPI community all over the place. Hopefully, after Shelley Luther loses this race, she’ll go away once and for all. Maybe she could move to Oklahoma, where her hate brand might be better received.


HD64 is in Denton County, and the incumbent Lynn Stucky (R) hasn’t done much to be memorable. Seeing that this is a gerrymandered seat, the only direction for Republicans to move is further right. This is what they’re promised with Andy Hopper, who is running on an openly racist platform and has promised to fight for Texas secession if elected.

I’m not predicting this race. Although Stuckey has raised the most money, Hopper’s coffers are nothing to snark at, and considering the extremism of Denton County Republicans, a vote for someone like Hopper wouldn’t be shocking. We’ll have to see how the Denton County GOP embraces or rejects these candidates later tonight.


Look how stupid the shape of this district is. There are no other words to explain how gerrymandered this seat is. Incumbent David Spiller (R) has raised over $800,000 for this election.

While he has three Republican challengers, none have raised more than a few thousand dollars. So when the GOP voters go to the polls today in one of these counties, they’ll probably only recognize Spiller’s name and ask who the other three guys were.

Spiller will win this primary and re-election in November. No question about it.


HD81 encompasses West Texas and is currently held by Brooks Landgraf (R). Landgraf was recently outed as another House GOP member who stepped out on his wife.

Challenging Landgraf is domestic terrorist enthusiast Casey Gray (R). Gray recently targeted Beto’s campaign rally in Midland with a giant gun and signs to try to run him out of town. Beto didn’t scare, but it demonstrated of what type of person Gray is. Gray has also been accused of stolen valor and had court records related to domestic violence leaked on the internet.

Landgraf will win this primary because the party of family values doesn’t care about family values. Instead, they care about their wealth, and Landgraf has done enough favors to get re-elected in West Texas.


Several years back, I used to hear many stories about “The Redneck Mafia” from Montague County, but I was never able to confirm anything. However, Republican insiders have made comments about the actual redneck mafia in Lubbock County over this last year or two. Who knows if that’s true? Always take what you hear from Republicans with a grain of salt. Regardless, Lubbock is too crowded of a county to be red, yet it is, thanks to gerrymandering. John Frullo (R) retired, leaving HD84 open for the wolves.

The clear front runner of this race is Carl Tepper, a right-wing radio talk show person who calls himself a *deep faith Christian” (insert dirty joke here) and is the ex-chair of the Lubbock County Republican Party.

Tepper has raised a mountain of cash compared to his opponents and has the name recognition needed to secure the election. Three other Republicans are running for this race, and while Tepper is the front runner, it’s doubtful there will be a runoff. If there is a runoff, it would be between Tepper and Kade Wilcox, a bully who has been running a negative campaign. Even if Tepper and Wilcox make it to a runoff, ultimately, we should expect to see Tepper in the House for the 88th Legislature.


HD91 incumbent Stephanie Klick has been another target of the far-right. Why? Because they say she hasn’t been extreme enough, which is insane. We have given Klick the nickname the Wicked Witch of Watauga because that’s how horrible her legislation and voting record has been. 

Klick has four GOP challengers. The only one who should be taken seriously is David Lowe, who has raised a considerable amount of cash and seems to have the support of the alt-right. However, similar to Bryan Slaton, David Lowe appears overly obsessed with children’s genitals.

It’s disconcerting. Check out Lowe’s Facebook page, where nearly every post talks about what’s in transgender children’s pants for months. This is the signal to all of us. The Republican Party has hit rock bottom.

Did you vote?

It’s essential to democracy and our state that you vote in every single election, even the primary elections. Polls close at 7:00 tonight. So, if you haven’t voted yet, hurry up and go.

Extremism will be back on the ballot in November, and we have to get the beast Democrats up there to fight against them.

Go here to see all of Living Blue in Texas’ House predictions.

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