David Spiller, an attorney from Jack County and a long-time board member for the Jacksboro Independent School District, led the race throughout the entire night.
But once all of the votes from the district’s largest county, Cooke County, were reported by the secretary of state, Spiller ended the evening shy of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff.
The runner-up position went back and forth between the other three Republicans in the race, but Nocona Old Boot Factory owner Craig Carter ultimately took the second spot with 18 percent of the vote.
Carter previously ran in the special election for Senate District 30 but was topped in votes by then-Rep. Drew Springer (R-Muenster) and Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther.
According to the unofficial count from the state, Carter ended the evening only 57 votes ahead of the third-place candidate, Jacksboro financial planner John Berry, and 162 votes ahead of Cooke County Judge Jason Brinkley.
The lone Democrat in the race, Charles Gregory, came in last with four percent of the vote.
Spiller outraised and outspent all of his opponents according to his campaign finance reports, and Carter spent the second-most thanks to a $50,000 loan from his business.
The Jack County attorney also received the most notable endorsement in the race — from former Texas Governor Rick Perry — as well as the backing of the Texas Parent PAC, a pro-public education group.
Spiller and Carter will now face off against one another in a runoff election for the seat at a date yet to be determined.
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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.