February 8, 2015
By Tim Eaton
The runoff election for a vacant seat in the Texas House pits two Central Texas Republicans against each other, but the candidates for House District 17 are showing that they are from opposite ends of the party’s ideological spectrum.
John Cyrier, a former Caldwell County commissioner, is staking out a mainstream Republican stance.
Meanwhile, Brent Golemon, a small businessman who once created the legislative tracking service GalleryWatch, is running to the right.
Cyrier was the highest vote-getter in the five-candidate special election on Jan. 6 with 46.1 percent of the vote. Golemon got 24.5 percent.
Early voting begins Monday and ends Friday. Election Day is Feb. 17. The winner will replace Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt, R-Lexington, who resigned to become general counsel at the Texas Department of Agriculture. The district comprises Bastrop, Caldwell, Gonzales, Karnes and Lee counties.
Golemon has said his priorities are maintaining local control of water in the district and getting higher pay for teachers by reducing other costs. Cyrier has said he would focus on properly funding public education, protecting groundwater and river flows, and improving the state transportation system.
Cyrier calls himself a “business GOP guy” — he founded Sabre Commercial, an Austin-based construction services company that specializes in general contracting — and said his experience on the Caldwell County Commissioners Court proves he “can work with others.”
“I am willing to be open and listen,” he said.
His campaign website lists support from Republicans and Democrats.
Appealing to Democratic voters is an unorthodox strategy for a Republican candidate, said Rice University political science professor Mark Jones.
If Cyrier can mobilize Democrats, he should garner enough support to push him over the top. Additionally, the district has a politically moderate profile, compared with most other Republican-leaning districts in the state, Jones said. Cyrier’s approach shouldn’t hurt him if he gets elected and faces a GOP challenger next year in a Republican primary.
“It’s not a ruby red district; it’s more of a pinkish district,” Jones said.
Golemon calls himself an “honest broker” and the most conservative choice in the District 17 runoff. He also said he is “pro-life without exceptions” and feels strongly about “the defense of marriage.”
“My principles don’t align with the Democratic Party,” he said. “I am not trying to reach across the aisle in the election.”
Golemon has hired consultant Luke Macias, whose client list includes some of the state’s most conservative candidates.
Golemon’s best hope lies on his ability to persuade the district’s tea party voters to turn out in greater numbers than they did in the special election, Jones said.
“More than anything, these elections hinge on turnout,” Jones said.