The Republican nominee for the Hays and Blanco County-spanning House District 45 (HD 45) will be decided next Tuesday. The two vying for the shot at taking on freshman incumbent Rep. Erin Zwiener (D-Driftwood) are Carrie Isaac and Bud Wymore.
Isaac runs the nonprofit Digital Education and Work Initiative of Texas (DEWIT) that connects disabled veterans with work. She’s also the wife of the former House District 45 representative, Jason Isaac, who opted to run for Congress in 2018 rather than reelection to his Texas House seat.
Critics, including Wymore, have questioned whether DEWIT has appropriately disbursed its funds to the cause it supports. However, the organization and Isaac maintain that money was not intended to go directly to veterans, but rather get the functions of DEWIT of the ground to connect them to job opportunities. According to DEWIT, about two dozen veterans have been helped in this way.
Wymore is an attorney and former Hays County Republican Party chairman who now serves as the group’s general counsel.
Isaac has criticized Wymore for being moderate on issues and for supposed conflicts of interest in his legal representation of the City of Woodcreek. The documents show Wymore was providing legal counsel to Woodcreek on its stay-home order compared with Governor Abbott’s.
Specifically regarding their top issues, the two candidates share interest in three broad categories: property taxes, the pro-life cause, and the Second Amendment.
Isaac wants to see restrictions on the state’s spending implemented and to use the excess revenue delineated from such a restriction to buy down more of the local entities’ share of the school maintenance and operations tax.
She’d like to see that budget restriction tied to a population-plus-inflation model of year-to-year increase.
In 2019, the 86th Legislature approved a similar buydown of localities’ property taxes but it did not restrict spending. In fact, it increased spending by $15 billion. The money for the buydown was taken from the state’s Rainy Day Fund.
Wymore, for his part, would like to see sales taxes on nonessential items increase to offset a reduction in property taxes coupled with the creation of a dollar amount cap on year-to-year increases.
A similar strategy was suggested by state leaders during the 86th Legislature, to supplant some of the property tax burden onto a sales tax, though the proposal went down in flames before it got off the ground.
Both Isaac and Wymore have voiced their support for constitutional carry.
On the issue of life, Wymore has stressed prohibiting abortion is the issue that stands above all others for him — an objective he sees best achieved through an overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Isaac offers a similar posture in opposition to abortion and in terms of policy proposals, Isaac specifically wants to prohibit taxpayer dollars from going to Planned Parenthood.
Tangentially, the HD 45 race illustrates another episode of the struggle between grappling pro-life organizations. Texas Right to Life has endorsed Isaac while Texas Alliance for Life supports Wymore.
Other organizational endorsements in the race include Gun Owners of America, Texas Homeschool Coalition, Texas Values Action, and Texas Association of Businesses for Isaac while Wymore does not list any such endorsements on his website.
He does, however, list a host of individual endorsements including Hays County Commissioners Mark Jones and Walt Smith, the 2018 HD 45 GOP nominee Ken Strange, and former Republican Party of Texas Executive Director Eric Opiela.
Figures that have endorsed Isaac include Attorney General Ken Paxton, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, and Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian.
In the primary, Isaac finished just shy of the 50 percent necessary to avoid the runoff — leading Wymore by about 1,100 votes.
Third-place finisher, Austin Talley, amassed 1,852 votes in the primary. Talley endorsed, and voted for, Wymore in the runoff.
In 2018, Zwiener defeated Strange by fewer than 3,000 votes. The district is rated “Lean Democratic” by Rice University fellow Mark P. Jones.
In the latest finance filings, Isaac raised four times as much as Wymore, pulling in $98,000 to Wymore’s $21,000.
July 10 is the final day of early voting in Texas ahead of election day on July 14.
Neither candidate responded to a request for an interview at the time of publishing.
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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 watching and quoting Monty Python productions.