Elections 2020Local NewsTwo Local Officials Face-Off in South Texas Republican Primary Runoff

A tax assessor-collector and a city councilman will face-off in the race to replace outgoing Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen.
March 19, 2020
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After a contentious primary election in March, the two candidates who received the most electoral support, Cody Vasut and Ro’Vin Garrett, are set to square off against each other in May’s Republican party runoff election.

Garrett, the current tax assessor-collector in Brazoria County, received 28 percent of the vote, the highest of the five candidates on the ballot. Vasut, an Angleton city council member, followed with 22 percent and barely edged out perceived front-runner Troy Brimage who received 21 percent of the vote.

Most of Garrett’s prominent endorsements come from a bevy of local elected officials in House District 25, including Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta and Sheriff Charlie Wagner.

A staple of the local government community, Garrett began her tenure as tax assessor-collector in 2000 after serving for 16 years in the same office as an employee and is past-president of the Tax Assessor-Collectors Association of Texas.

Of the primary election results, Garrett told The Texan, “The voters responded. They know that my work serving the taxpayers of Brazoria County matters when it comes to being the most effective in supporting legislation that will have a positive impact on their pocketbooks. I am an expert in the property tax code. I have helped our Commissioners Court understand how to utilize the effective tax rate to have a real impact on property owners and save them 17 percent over the last five years.”

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Her presence in Brazoria County, which accounts for the lion’s share of the district’s population, served her well once the votes were tallied. Nearly 80 percent of those who voted in the House District 25 Republican primary were from Brazoria County.

“For decades, I have been an active part of this community and my track record is proven and trusted. It has been humbling and gratifying to have people from all walks of life all across this district approach me at the gas stations, in Walmart parking lots for yard signs and thanking me for running because they trust me.  It is an incredible compliment and an awesome responsibility to carry their trust and act on it.”

Citing her experience, Garrett continued, “I have always done more with less with our office budgets and I will continue to do more with less in this campaign. I will expect the state to do more with less in their budget, especially with what we are facing right now.”

Vasut, an attorney by trade and lifelong Brazoria County resident, also brings experience at the local level to the table, having been elected to the city council in 2016. 

Reflecting upon his campaign, Vasut told The Texan, “We worked hard in the primary to prove to voters that I am the most qualified conservative to represent their values in Austin. Values like promoting life, limiting government, reining in property taxes, and protecting our right to keep and bear arms. The results of the primary show that our message resonated with voters.”

He has received the endorsement of two of the candidates he and Garrett beat out in March. Rhonda Seth, a grassroots favorite and emergency room nurse, and then-frontrunner and former police officer Troy Brimage have both thrown their support behind Vasut. 

Vasut said these former adversaries “endorsed me in the runoff because they believe I am the most qualified candidate to advance our conservative values in Austin. They are encouraging their supporters to vote for me because they want to be represented by a conservative taxpayer, not a career tax collector.”

In his mind, the key to a runoff victory remains the same, regardless of the unknown nature of this season. 

“Even in the present age of COVID-19, and the uncertainties and challenges it brings to the process, the formula for victory remains the same: get out the vote. We are going to run a vigorous campaign to get our supporters to the polls and earn the support of undecided voters.”

“I am confident that when undecided voters compare the remaining candidates on the issues they will see that I am the only proven conservative in this race who is ready to represent their values in Austin on day one,” Vasut said.

House District 25 encompasses all of Matagorda County and nearly half of Brazoria County. The winner of the runoff election, currently slated for May 26, will replace outgoing Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton). 

Bonnen announced he would not run for reelection in October following a scandal involving a list of 10 target Republicans and a quid pro quo.

Though the Republican nominee will face Democrat Patrick Henry in November, Senator Ted Cruz won the district with 70 percent of the vote in 2018 while Bonnen faced no opponent in the general election.

Correction: A previous version of the article incorrectly stated the year that Ro’Vin Garrett began her tenure as Brazoria County tax assessor-collector. 

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McKenzie Taylor

McKenzie Taylor

McKenzie Taylor serves as Senior Editor and resident plate-spinner for The Texan. Previously, she worked as State Representative Kyle Biedermann’s Capitol Director during the 85th legislative session before moving to Fort Worth to manage Senator Konni Burton’s campaign. In her free time, you might find her enjoying dog memes, staring at mountains, or proctoring personality tests.