87th LegislatureEducationElections 2022GunsImmigration & BorderIssuesState HouseTaxes & SpendingSoutheast Texas School Board President Seeks to Challenge Rep. Ernest Bailes From the Right

Janis Holt is one of the Republican candidates running against Rep. Ernest Bailes in a redrawn East Texas House district.
February 14, 2022
Rep. Ernest Bailes (R-Shepherd) is facing three challengers in the Republican primary for Texas House District 18, one of whom is a school board president who believes the district needs bolder conservative representation.

The district now includes San Jacinto, Liberty, and Hardin counties, as well as a portion of eastern Montgomery County.

HD 18 is ranked R-83% on The Texan’s Texas Partisan Index, indicating it overwhelmingly favors Republicans. No Democrats are running for the seat.

Before redistricting, Rep. James White (R-Hillister) represented the East Texas district. Bailes is the incumbent now that the district has been redrawn.

White is not running for reelection to the Texas House, but is seeking the Republican nomination for agriculture commissioner.

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Bailes was among nine Republicans who joined Democrats to advocate the expansion of Medicaid. In an analysis by political scientist Mark P. Jones, Bailes was ranked 65th on a list of the 150 House lawmakers from most conservative to most liberal in ascending order.

In the most recent campaign finance report, Bailes reported $29,265 in campaign contributions.

Janis Holt, who currently serves as the presiding trustee for Silsbee Independent School District, emphasized her opposition to critical race theory and characterized it as a “Marxist ideology” rather than a legitimate course of study.

When asked about how to balance opposition to critical race theory with local control, Holt emphasized her belief that critical race theory is unlike other issues such as how much a district allocates to its agriculture programs.

“When you talk about an ideology that can harm our children, and it teaches our children to look at each other solely based on their skin color, then I believe that all levels of government must work together to eradicate such a dangerous ideology,” Holt said.

Highlighting the increase in suicides by teens, she criticized the governmental response to COVID-19 and said that resources should be made available to help struggling students.

“I’ve seen the learning loss that has happened over the last two years with COVID, and then I’ve also alarmingly seen how the socialization of our children has been greatly hindered because of the children having to wear these masks,” Holt said.

The candidate criticized Bailes for receiving low ratings from conservative groups such as Texas Right to Life and Young Conservatives of Texas. The former gave Bailes a grade of 68 percent and the latter gave the incumbent a grade of 60 percent.

The National Rifle Association has endorsed Bailes, but the Texas chapter of Gun Owners of America has endorsed Holt.

Holt also contended that Bailes should have supported removing the committee chairmanships of Democrats who broke quorum to block the consideration of election reform.

As part of the Election Integrity Protection Act, the legislature downgraded the penalty for illegal voting from a felony to a misdemeanor. Holt believes the penalty should be reset to a felony.

The Republican also contended that border security is “crucial to everything else that we want to do” and advocated finishing the border wall and enhancing security measures.

“I have no animus against Rep. Bailes. He is a nice man and I’m sure a wonderful father and husband,” Holt said. “I just believe that there is a contrast between the values that I have and the values that he has voted for in the past.”

Holt reported $1,154 in campaign donations in the most recent campaign finance period. Republican candidates Ronnie “Bubba” Tullos and Stephen Missick reported no contributions.

Holt was the only candidate who responded to The Texan’s interview request.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."