Elections 2022State HouseFormer Governor Perry Parachutes into Central Texas GOP Runoff

Rick Perry is driving a last-minute push for Stan Gerdes, who served as a staffer for the former governor.
May 23, 2022
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Former Texas governor and Trump administration official Rick Perry has set his sights on one state House race more than almost any other: the open seat for House District (HD) 17 pitting Stan Gerdes against Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape.

Gerdes, a close Perry ally who served as a staffer for the former governor, has received ample support from Perry and his political machine.

This week, both Perry and GOP candidate for Texas’ 8th Congressional District Morgan Luttrell, another former Perry staffer, recorded face-to-camera defenses of Gerdes.

“I’m sick and tired of seeing this nonsense Paul Pape’s peddling about my friend Stan Gerdes,” the former governor said in his cameo. “What’s Paul Pape accomplished for the area? Well, how about higher property taxes, mask mandates, and closed county parks.”

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In Luttrell’s video of support, he stated, “[Stan Gerdes] and I worked together in Washington, D.C. serving our great Governor Perry in the Department of Energy.”

Perry’s ties have proven lucrative for Gerdes’ campaign, as he has raised $437,000 during the run compared to Pape’s $45,000 buttressed by a $300,000 self-loan. The former governor keynoted a campaign fundraiser for his man in HD 17.

Gerdes finished first in the five-way primary while Pape edged out Tom Glass for second place after a recount.

HD 17 is open due to the retirement of state Rep. John Cyrier’s (R-Lockhart), who has since endorsed Pape in the runoff. Meanwhile, Gerdes is endorsed by Perry, Congressmen Pete Sessions (R-TX-17) and Chip Roy (R-TX-21, and state Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown).

Pape, like other local elected executives running for higher office, faces criticism over the tax rates Bastrop County adopted during his tenure. In his campaign ad, Pape touts that the city “cut property tax rates” under his tutelage. Each of the last five years, Bastrop County did reduce its property tax rate, but it did not adopt the no-new-revenue rate. Thus, because of appraisal increases, property tax collections increased too.

He is also taking flack for supporting the relocation of Confederate statues on the Bastrop County Courthouse.

Gerdes, meanwhile, is criticized for spending “his entire adult life in politics,” garnering most of his financial support from outside the district, and for not opposing Democrats as committee chairmen.

“I’ve been to D.C, and I’ve seen how broken our Congress is, and so I’m hesitant to sign onto anything that makes us more broken,” Gerdes said at the Lost Pines Republican Women’s candidate forum. “And so, if elected then I can take a look and take a look at what we can see work that’s best for the people of Texas.”

Voters in HD 17 have been blanketed with mail pieces during the runoff as both candidates jockey for position on the home stretch. And with his big gun throwing more weight around, Gerdes is hoping it is enough to outdo Pape’s longer-tenured track in the district.

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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.