In Hays and Blanco counties, Republicans are looking to win back House District 45 after Rep. Erin Zwiener (D-Driftwood) won the open seat in 2018.
Carrie Isaac, Austin Talley, and Bud Wymore are the three Republicans vying for their party’s nomination to challenge the incumbent, who has been ranked as the sixth most progressive member of the state house last session.
Isaac has served in the leadership of several non-profit organizations and is also the wife of former Rep. Jason Isaac, the previous Republican to hold the seat.
Talley is a Navy veteran, business owner, and works with non-profit organizations to help veterans in need.
Wymore is an attorney who previously served as the chairman of the Hays County Republican Party.
Isaac and Wymore have led the way in fundraising, and both candidates have also received numerous endorsements from organizations and leaders in the community.
Detailed information on the finances in the race and more background information on other key races in the state can be found in The Texan’s War Room.
An interview conducted by the Austin-American Statesman with Talley and Wymore can also be found here.
The Texan reached out to all Republican candidates regarding their top three policy priorities for the next legislative session should they be elected to office. Their responses can be found below.
- Cut property taxes
- Isaac told The Texan that property taxes is the “number one issue” she hears from residents in the district, noting, “People — myself included — are tired of feeling like they’re renting their home from the government.”
- Her plan: “As state representative, I’ll advocate for a stricter spending cap of population plus inflation at the state level and use excess revenue to buy down the school maintenance and operation (M&O) tax.”
- Isaac says her plan “could eliminate 40-50% of our property taxes in 11 years — and it would end the Robin Hood recapture program that steals funding from every school district in House District 45.”
- “While my opponents want to use budget gimmicks to create the illusion of savings, but in reality let property taxes keep rising,” said Isaac, “I’m committed to actually cutting taxes.”
- Defend the unborn
- Isaac said she would “work tirelessly to defend unborn life,” adding that “as a mom and a lifelong pro-life Texan,” she wouldn’t stand for the “50,000 innocent Texans are killed at the hands of abortionists every year”
- To address abortion, Isaac said whe would “work to create a culture of life in Texas, end the tragedy of abortion, provide options and hope to women in crisis pregnancies, and ensure our tax dollars never fund Planned Parenthood.”
- Isaac is endorsed by Texas Right to Life and Pro-Life Texas.
- Protect the Second Amendment
- “Our constitutionally protected Second Amendment rights are in jeopardy from gun-grabbing politicians on both sides of the aisle,” said Isaac.
- At a forum in Blanco County, Isaac said that she supports constitutional carry.
- Isaac is endorsed by the National Rifle Association, the Gun Owners of America, and the Texas State Rifle Association, and has received a 100 percent rating from Lone Star Gun Rights.
- “In fact, I’m the only non-incumbent endorsed by the NRA because of my ‘history of activism on issues of importance to gun owners and sportsmen in Texas,’” said Isaac.
In addition to those top three priorities, Isaac said that she would also “proudly fight” for “securing the border and supporting our students and teachers, eliminating unfunded mandates and ensuring funding goes to the classroom where it belongs.”
“Hays and Blanco counties’ voices aren’t being heard in the Texas Capitol,” said Isaac. “Our current representative is an unabashed socialist who consistently votes for higher taxes, bigger government, and less freedom against her constituents’ will.”
Isaac said that her “broad base of local and statewide support among conservative leaders and elected officials, as well as my strong fundraising abilities, makes me the best candidate to take back House District 45.”
- Property and appraisal tax reform
- “We need less spending at the federal, state, and local level. Government does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem,” says Talley on his campaign site. “Our tax dollars are often wasted in bloated bureaucracies and in programs that are duplicative.”
- Talley wants to “ensure that Texas never has a state income tax” and reduce property taxes without raising the state sales tax “one penny.”
- “We must reform the budget process to include greater transparency, ensuring that dedicated fees and funds are used only for their defined purposes and we should enact zero based budgeting practices,” says Talley.
- Pass constitutional carry
- “The Second Amendment was put in place to protect individual gun ownership rights,” says Talley. “It was meant to protect the right of individuals to protect themselves and their families, first and foremost. And it is a last resort check on government tyranny.”
- “I don’t think you need to have a license if you’re a law abiding citizen in the state of Texas,” said Talley at a forum. “The Constitution is very clear.”
- Education reform
- “I believe in local control when it comes to education,” says Talley. “Our students and parents need more options, because every student learns differently. We must give them, and our teachers, flexibility in how education is delivered to students.”
- Talley argues that standardized testing gives “the wrong incentives.”
- “We must ensure that more dollars go directly into the classroom, and fewer dollars go to overhead and administrative costs,” he says. “Other than family and church, education is the most important influence on our children and is critical to the future of Texas.”
Other top priorities that Talley mentioned included securing the border and abolishing abortion.
Talley also emphasized that he had difficulty in narrowing his top priorities to just three, saying that since Republicans are able to maintain control of the state legislature and governor’s office, they shouldn’t have a problem passing the top 100 priorities as defined by the state party platform.
“I think it’s my job to prioritize those to be passed,” said Talley in a Blanco County primary forum a few weeks ago. “We passed over 1,000 bills last year, and we got 60 out of the 332 priorities.”
Talley told The Texan that the committees he would like to be assigned to include Homeland Security and Public Safety (given his military experience), the International Relations and Economic Development Committee (because of experience in energy exports), and the Defense and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
Asked during an interview by the Austin-American Statesman if there is a particular legislator he would emulate, Talley said that he has looked up to Reps. Kyle Biedermann (R-Fredericksburg) and Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford).
Editor’s Note: Mr. Wymore did not respond to multiple requests to discuss his top three policy priorities, but he has spoken about several of the same issues as Isaac and Talley.
- Protecting life:
- At a forum with the North Hays Republican Group, Wymore said, “If there’s one issue above all else that I will stand for, it’s protecting life.”
- “If you give me a clear and an unobstructed path to abolishing Roe v. Wade, that’s it,” said Wymore.
- On his campaign website, Wymore says that his background as an attorney prepares him “to do the heavy lifting of developing creative, new policies that will promote a culture of life and protect the health and safety of mothers and babies.”
- Wymore has been endorsed by the Texas Alliance for Life.
- Property tax reform:
- “Dealing with property taxes is a multifaceted issue,” said Wymore. “And it starts with the analysis that we have a budget surplus in the state of Texas. What does that tell you from the very beginning? We’re taxing people too much. That’s just one part of the equation. The other problem is we’re taxing people out of property and home-ownership. That’s unacceptable.”
- Wymore offered two proposals.
- First, “putting an annual dollar cap on property tax increases” so that “there’s no more than [a reasonable amount] increase.”
- Second, “statutorily bringing them down and looking to an alternate funding mechanism: a slight increase on sales tax on nonessentials only — not the milk, eggs, bread, cheese — but those non-essentials […which] must resume result in a net decrease in taxes.”
- Second Amendment:
- Like Isaac and Talley, Wymore openly supports constitutional carry.
- “We are right to be concerned about episodes of senseless violence, and we are right to identify ways to address the challenges of our day,” Wymore says on his campaign website. “The solution to these challenges, however, cannot abridge our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Our district is full of responsible hunters, sportsmen and enthusiasts who need a representative who focuses on real solutions to the problems of violence and mental health, without pointing the finger at the vast majority of our law-abiding citizens.”
- Wymore’s support of the Second Amendment has been questioned by Isaac, who claims that he “supports red flag laws and frivolously sues gun ranges.”
- In one lawsuit noted by Isaac, Wymore represented land developers who had reportedly bought a plot of land near the Best of the West gun range in Liberty Hill, Williamson County. The range was ultimately closed down, though the owners said that despite rumors, no one had been injured or killed by shooters at the range.
- Wymore responded to the criticism at a forum, arguing that the three lawsuits against ranges that he has participated in were not “frivolous,” citing one of the lawsuits where stray bullets from a range had injured persons on an adjacent property.
- “The collective work that we did wasn’t about the Second Amendment. It was about private property rights. It was about protecting life,” said Wymore.
Other issues that Wymore lists as “action items” on his campaign website include “improving student-focused education,” “secure the border and enforce immigration laws,” “grow our local economy,” and “improve infrastructure and quality of life.”
Unlike Talley, Wymore — who was endorsed by the editorial board of Austin-American Statesman — did not answer with a specific example of what kind of legislator he might serve like. Instead, he replied, “Who I would be as a legislator — it’s more than looking at other legislators.… It’s stepping into a position, feeling the weight of that position, wearing that burden, and walking forward with dignity and class.”
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.