The Back MicThe Back Mic: Special Session Partisan Rankings Released, Cyrier Draws GOP Challengers, Crowded Williamson County Primary Grows

This week — updated legislative rankings after the special sessions are released, two GOP candidates jump into a primary race, and the field for a Williamson County House seat grows.
November 5, 2021

Don’t Miss “The Back Mic”

An exclusive look inside Texas politics and policy, every Friday.

New Conservative & Liberal Rankings After Special Sessions

Mark P. Jones of Rice University released his updated legislative rankings after the summer’s special sessions. The new edition featured some changes in the most conservative and liberal Republicans and Democrats. Below are the top five in each category.

Texas House

Top 5 Most Conservative Republicans

  1. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park)
  2. Cody Vasut (R-Angleton)
  3. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands)
  4. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth)
  5. Jared Patterson (R-Frisco)

Top 5 Most Liberal Republicans

The Texan Tumbler

  1. Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio)
  2. Dan Huberty (R-Houston)
  3. Kyle Kacal (R-College Station)
  4. Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas)
  5. J.M. Lozano (R-Kingsville)

Top 5 Most Conservative Democrats

  1. Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City)
  2. Richard Peña Raymond (D-Laredo)
  3. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg)
  4. Tracy King (D-Batesville)
  5. Abel Herrero (D-Robstown)

Top 5 Most Liberal Democrats

  1. Jasmine Crockett (D-Dallas)
  2. Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton)
  3. Ana-Maria Ramos (D-Richardson)
  4. Toni Rose (D-Dallas)
  5. Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin)

Texas Senate

Top 5 Most Conservative Republicans

  1. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola)
  2. Drew Springer (R-Muenster)
  3. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe)
  4. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood)
  5. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury)

Top 5 Most Liberal Republicans

  1. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo)
  2. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood)
  3. Joan Huffman (R-Houston)
  4. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels)
  5. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound)

Top 5 Most Conservative Democrats

  1. Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville)
  2. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen)
  3. Beverly Powell (D-Burleson)
  4. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo)
  5. Royce Wet (D-Dallas)

Top 5 Most Liberal Democrats

  1. Sarah Eckhardt (D-Austin)
  2. Borris Miles (D-Houston)
  3. Nathan Johnson (D-Dallas)
  4. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston)
  5. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio)

See the full updated ratings here. Post-regular session ratings can be found here

Candidates Launch GOP Primary Challenges to Rep. John Cyrier

Four-term incumbent Rep. John Cyrier (R-Lockhart) has drawn two primary challengers ahead of the 2022 midterm election. Cyrier has not yet announced if he’ll seek reelection, but challengers Jen Bezner and Tom Glass have both jumped into the GOP field.

The newly drawn House District (HD) 17 is even more strongly Republican than its current version, with a Texas Partisan Index rating of R-64%. But one third of the district’s voters are new to HD 17.

Jen Benzer, who announced in September, told The Texan, “We need a representative who has a strong, consistent presence in the district, who listens to constituents, and who is willing to take on the special interests when formulating solutions to the major issues threatening our quality of life.”

Benzer said her top issues are stopping government overreach, stopping illegal immigration, and confronting the district’s water supply issues.

She then criticized Cyrier for not taking stances on “hard social issues” and said, “He plays it safe, which is unacceptable in these tumultuous times.”

Glass announced his candidacy on Thursday, saying, “The globalists and Marxists who have seized power in DC are working to take everything Texans hold dear.”

“We need leaders in Austin who will secure the rights of Texans and let Texans run Texas. These are not usual times, so we don’t need politics as usual.”

Glass told The Texan in an interview that his top four issues are securing the district’s groundwater, enforcing the constitution by corralling executive overreach, protecting the electric grid, and passing the Texas GOP legislative priorities.

About the incumbent, Glass said, “[Cyrier] is a guy that represents Austin into the district instead of the district to Austin.”

Another Republican Jumps into Crowded House District 52 Primary

The GOP primary for Williamson County’s House District 52, currently held by Rep. James Talarico (D-Round Rock) who is running instead in HD 50, gained another candidate this week.

Patrick McGuinness, an engineer and businessman, announced his candidacy on Wednesday. 

“As a thirty year resident of Central Texas, I have spent my life working hard as an engineer in high-technology, raising a family, and supporting conservative causes and Republican candidates,” he said.

He concluded, “James Talarico may not like the new voters of House District 52, but I certainly do. I look forward to meeting more members of this community and sharing my uncompromising conservative beliefs and the proven, principled, problem-solving credentials I bring to this race that set me apart from others.”

McGuinness joins a field of three other announced candidates — attorney and former staffer for Sen. Charles Schwertner, Nelson Jarrin; current legislative staffer for Sen. Bryan Hughes, Caroline Harris; and activist Tjitse Miller. Jon Schober, who hosts the Texas GOP’s podcast, has also filed for the seat but no official announcement has been made.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated new additions to HD 17. We regret the error.


Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.

Get “KB's Hot Take”

A free bi-weekly commentary on current events by Konni Burton.

Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and 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.