State Rep. Barbara Nash, R-Arlington, was elected two years ago to represent House District 93. As she seeks a second term, her district number is the same, but just about everything else has changed.
In the Legislature’s redistricting process, Nash’s district was drastically redrawn. The new district shares just 20 percent of the population of the one that originally elected her, according to the Texas Legislative Council.
To Nash’s two Republican primary opponents, Pat Carlson and Matt Krause, Nash is like an incumbent with an asterisk next to her name. Both said that in large parts of the district, Nash doesn’t have the name recognition one would expect of an incumbent.
"I view it as more of an open seat," Krause said.
Though she’s best known in Arlington, where she previously served on the school board and City Council, Nash said she’s been working hard to meet with the new voters of her district, which now stretches from northeast Arlington to northwest Fort Worth.
When she meets voters on the campaign trail, she often begins by asking them their addresses to ensure they are in her new district, which includes parts of 10 cities.
"I take my map with me all the time so I can look people up," she said.
Nash said she’s been grateful for the support of state Reps. Vicki Truitt, R-Southlake, and Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, both of whom have vouched for her among voters in their respective districts who will soon find themselves in District 93.
"[Truitt] campaigned with me, telling people I’ll be as good as she is," Nash said. "And same with Charlie Geren."
Carlson is a former president of the Texas Eagle Forum, an influential conservative group focused on social issues. Krause is a lawyer with Liberty Counsel, an Orlando-based law firm affiliated with the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. Both live in Fort Worth and are framing themselves as the conservative alternative to Nash.
Carlson has made a name for herself working on social issues for more than a decade.
"The difference between Matt and myself is I’ve got the experience," Carlson said. "He’s a really nice man with a young family. He is very conservative. He and I will split that conservative vote."
Krause is drawing endorsements from statewide groups like Texans for Fiscal Responsibility and the Young Conservatives of Texas.
"I think we’re kind of separating ourselves" from Carlson, Krause said.
Nash said anyone who looks at her record has no reason to question her conservatism.
"We had the most conservative Legislature we ever had, and we passed the most conservative agenda," Nash said.
One issue that’s come up at candidate forums is whether Joe Straus should continue as speaker of the House. Nash supported him last session and touts the conservative measures passed last session as proof that she made the right call. Carlson and Krause have been critical of Straus and said they hope to vote for a more conservative speaker.
Krause has also proposed ending the budget gimmicks lawmakers have used to balance the state's two-year budget. The issue is drawing more attention this year than ever before, he said.
"I’ve talked to so many people who know we only funded Medicaid 18 months," Krause said. "It’s crazy how into the weeds people have gotten on this."
Carlson said she wants to curb overreach by state agencies, citing the Public Utility Commission’s decision to install "smart meters" around the state.
"I’m tired of bureaucrats writing the laws instead of our legislators," Carlson said.
Nash said the key issues that will need to be addressed in the next session will depend largely on what kind of mandates regarding education and health care Texas receives from the federal government.
"I think a lot of what we do will be depending on who the president is," Nash said. "If a Republican wins, there’s going to be a lot of changes in terms of the mandates we’re getting from Washington."