At least four candidates say they're running for the District 13 House seat opened up as Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, moves to the Senate.
Kolkhorst, who won a special election earlier this month to fill Comptroller-elect Glenn Hegar’s seat, was sworn in as District 18's new senator on Monday. Gov. Rick Perry promptly set a special election for Jan. 13 to replace her in the House.
Candidates have until Dec. 29 to officially file for the race, and already at least three Republicans and one Democrat are campaigning. While the Republicans cast about for ways to distinguish themselves, the lone Democrat confronts a district that has elected conservatives for years.
Republican Austin County Judge Carolyn Bilski, 61, is playing the experience card, hoping her 20 years as a county judge and eight years as a city council member will give her a leg up. “I think the voters deserve someone who has done research and solved problems,” said Bilski, who listed education and infrastructure as high-priority issues.
Caldwell attorney Leighton Schubert, also a Republican, said he has worked for every level of government from federal to county. He said keeping Texas’ economy strong and fiscally conservative is his top priority, plus protecting private property rights. “Any issue starts with the economy,” Schubert said. “We got to help keep this economy moving — that helps from the top down.”
Becky Berger, Republican No. 3 and a geologist, has lost twice in Republican primary races for the Texas Railroad Commission.
Cecil Webster, a veteran who’s been active in Democratic politics in Fayette County for years, said restoring education funding would be one of his top priorities if he's elected, and rejected the premise that the district is unwinnable for a Democrat. “I am convinced that if you look at the actual number of folks here, there are more blue folks then red folks,” Webster, 60, said. “Democrats just don’t vote.”
Turnout is expected to be low, however, as in most special elections. Bilski said the timing of the race will not help, either.
“With the Christmas season and the holidays, college kids coming home, children being out of school, it will be very difficult to ask the voters to focus on this race,” she said.