Democratic party chairs in Comal and Guadalupe counties are maintaining optimism despite the likelihood they’ll be able to muster any candidates for local positions in next March’s party primaries.
“Four congressional districts in New Braunfels? That’s just nuts,” said Marilyn Aden, Comal County Democratic chair of portions of U.S. House Districts 15, 21, 28 and 35 within city limits. “We’re being heavily gerrymandered here.”
Short of the federal courts overturning redistricting maps set by the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature, there’s little for local Democrats to cheer — other than the entry of El Paso’s Beto O’Rourke in the race for Texas governor.
“I haven’t heard of anyone trying to file for the county positions, so it doesn’t look like this will be a breakthrough year,” Aden said. “We’re sort of disappointed, but we’ll have to see.”
On the flip side, Sue Piner, Comal Republican chair, expects the party to maintain its 25-year-long grip on all major statewide and local positions for another two years.
“We are solid, conservative Red in Comal County — and are very well served by our elected officials,” she said.
Last Saturday, filing opened for Democratic and Republican candidates to appear on the ballot in the March 1 primary elections. In addition to governor, six other top state slots are up for re-election, along with every U.S. House and Texas House seat and half of the seats in the Texas Senate.
Other statewide seats up for election include lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, land commissioner, agriculture commissioner and railroad commissioner. Also up are three justiceships on the state Supreme Court and three on the Court of Criminal Appeals.
Comal and Guadalupe seats up in 2023 include county judge, commissioners in precincts 2 and 4, criminal district attorney (Comal), treasurer, county courts at-law judges, district and county clerks, all four justices of the peace, and three district court judges.
Piner said eight GOP candidates have filed with her for reelection, including Criminal District Attorney Jennifer Tharp, County Court at-Law No. 1 Judge Randy Gray and challenger Marilee Hazel; Treasurer Renee Couch, County Clerk Bobbie Koepp, District Clerk Heather Kellar, Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Rick Walker, and Mike Britt for Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace.
Piner wouldn’t comment on “the other side” but did offer some insight into the statewide races.
“I think the Texas elections are going to be well attended, with a lot of people voting, because we have a lot of interest in the governor’s race and we have a challenge for lieutenant governor,” she said, referring to state secessionist advocate Daniel Miller of Nederland, who has filed to face two-term incumbent Dan Patrick.
Also interesting, Piner said, was District 1 U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert entering a widening field of candidates seeking to topple Attorney General Ken Paxton, another two-term incumbent.
“Even though we heard about it ahead of time, that was a big surprise,” Piner said.
Aden and Guadalupe County Democratic Chair Duane McCune are still holding out hope for candidates will file for local positions. The lone elected official serving both counties is Rebecca Bell-Metereau, who won the District 5 State Board of Education seat in 2020.
GOP redistricting now has her facing reelection two years sooner in a much more conservative District 20, which wraps from Seguin and New Braunfels, northwest and then northeast around Austin and into the Bryan-College Station area.
Bell-Metereau and District 73 Texas House hopeful Justin Calhoun are the lone Democrats.
“It’s going to be an interesting election,” Aden said. “Hoping there’s not going to be a lot of trouble with voting. And I don’t think there will be, but we just don’t know.”
McCune, who will be stepping down after five, two-year terms as Guadalupe party chair, says there’s a lot of time before the filing period ends at 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 13.
Two longtime Texas Senate incumbents filed this week — Donna Campbell, a New Braunfels Republican seeking her third full term representing District 25, and Judith Zaffirini, a Laredo Democrat seeking her 10th Senate term representing District 21.
for third term
On Monday, District 21 U.S. House Rep. Chip Roy announced for reelection.
“I’m running for reelection to stop Joe Biden from destroying this country,” he said in a statement. “America is under assault on every front. We must stand for America, stand for Texas, preserve our God-given rights, and secure the border, so that we may once again enjoy the blessings of liberty and leave for our children a country that is strong, proud and free.”
Roy, from Austin, is in his second term and currently serving on the House Judiciary and Veterans Affairs committees, on the executive board of the House Freedom Caucus, and was recently named chair of the Republican Study Committee’s Healthcare Task Force.
Isaac, Green formally file for District 73
As expected, Carrie Isaac of Dripping Springs recently filed for Texas House District 73, which also formally added former New Braunfels City Council Member George Green to the fray on Friday.
“Our state desperately needs fearless conservative leaders, and I’m running to give our values the powerful voice they deserve in the Texas Capitol,” she said in a statement.
“Texas must unapologetically stand firm for the principles that have made our state a beacon of hope for the nation and the world — not follow the path of big government and progressive social ideology.”
Isaac, “a conservative Republican,” promised to “work to secure the border, cut property taxes, empower parents to have control over their children’s education, ban liberal indoctrination of students in public school, defend — not defund — our law enforcement, and protect the Hill Country.”
Isaac is a fourth-generation Texan. She’s married to former state Rep. Jason Isaac, who came in third to Roy in the 2018 GOP party primary for House District 21. Also seeking the D73 GOP nod is former New Braunfels Mayor Barron Casteel.
The last day to register to vote is Monday, Jan. 31; the early voting period runs from Monday, Feb. 14 through Friday, Feb. 25. For election information and updated candidate filings, visit the elections link at the Texas Secretary of State’s website, www.sos.state.tx.us.