Republicans David Spiller and Craig Carter are headed to a runoff in the special election to fill the seat of former state Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, now a state senator.
With all precincts reporting Saturday night, Spiller, a Jacksboro attorney and school board trustee, had a significant lead, holding 44% of the vote, with Carter taking 18%, according to unofficial results. Carter, a former state Senate candidate, was closely followed by another GOP candidate, John Berry, who trailed Carter by 57 votes. Jason Brinkley, also a Republican, was in fourth place with 16% of the vote. The only Democrat running, Charles D. Gregory, finished last with 4%.
Both Berry, a Jacksboro financial planner, and Brinkley, the former Cooke County judge, conceded on social media.
"I believe that Texas needs a working-class conservative, not another lawyer representing us," Carter said in a tweet celebrating his advancement to the runoff, drawing a contrast with Spiller."I would be honored to have your vote."
Gov. Greg Abbott will set a date for the runoff election sometime in February, after the votes are canvassed, according to the secretary of state's office.
The safely Republican Texas House district covers a large swath of rural northwest Texas wrapping around Wichita Falls and up into the Panhandle.
Springer vacated the seat last month after winning a special election runoff to replace now-U.S. Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Prosper, in the Texas Senate. Abbott ordered a sped-up special election for Springer's state House seat due to the legislative session, which began earlier this month.
The race was sleepy, with GOP candidates avoiding attacks as they sought to burnish their credentials as advocates for rural Texas. Spiller raised the most money and had the most notable endorsement — that of former Gov. Rick Perry, who grew up inside the district.