The deadline for Texas’ Democratic and Republican 2020 primaries has officially closed. Candidates filed to the country’s two most prominent political parties now turn their attention to what is sure to be a hotly contested primary election next March.
Nearly all candidates holding local positions in Gonzales County filed for re-election. Though the majority of the eight countywide seats up for election in 2020 will likely be completely uncontested, there are a few races that did draw challengers.
The sheriff race has drawn the most candidates and will be the only position that Gonzales County Democrats challenge for. Incumbent Sheriff Matthew Atkinson will face two other lawmen in the Republican primary in March: Former Gonzales Police Department Captain Allen Taylor and retired Texas DPS Trooper Robert Ynclan.
On the Democratic side, voters will see two familiar names for sheriff. Both candidates in 2020’s Democratic primary, Clay Allen III and Floyd Toliver, unsuccessfully ran for Gonzales County Sheriff as Republicans in 2016.
Allen has previous experience in both law enforcement as a chief deputy and in electoral politics as a Nixon-Smiley CISD school board member. Toliver has more than 20 years of experience with the Gonzales County Sheriff’s Office and served as Nixon’s chief police in 2018.
Further down ballot, longtime county commissioner Kevin La Fleur will face a primary challenge for his Precinct 3 seat from Gonzales Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture Executive Director Daisy Scheske Freeman. Both La Fleur and Freeman are filed as Republicans.
Constable precinct 1 will be an open seat next election as incumbent Leslie Pirkle opted to not seek re-election. Two Republicans will contest for the opening: Gonzales County ESD commissioner and paramedic Johnnie Hall and former Smiley City Marshal and 2016 constable candidate Scott Rhodes.
All other elections for countywide seats will likely be uncontested and remain in Republican control. Those positions include: County Attorney Paul Watkins, County Tax Assessor-Collector Crystal Cedillo, County Commissioner Precinct 1 K.O. “Dell” Whiddon, Constable Precinct 3 Derek Johnson and Constable Precinct 4 John Moreno.
At the state level, both Gonzales County’s state house representative and senator have drawn general election challengers. Incumbent John Cyrier (R-Lockhart) will square off against Madeline Eden (D-Bastrop) next November. Cyrier won Texas House District 17 in 2015 via a special election and has retained the seat through two elections since. Eden ran for U.S. House in 2016 and finished fourth out of seven candidates in the Democratic primary for Texas’ 10th Congressional District.
State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) drew a general election challenger in Michael Antalan (D-Katy). Antalan ran a failed bid for Fort Bend County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3 in 2018. This is the first election since 2014 that Kolkhorst will have a Democratic challenger.
Both of Gonzales County’s incumbent congressional representatives will face challengers next year. U.S. Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Victoria) will meet the winner of the Ricardo “Rick” De La Fuente (D-Victoria) and Charlie Jackson (D-Corpus Christi) primary race. Texas’ 27th Congressional District, currently held by Cloud, covers the northern part of Gonzales County and includes the cities of Gonzales and Waelder.
The southern region of the county is considered Texas’ 34th Congressional District and is currently held by U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville). Vela will face a primary challenge from Osbert Rodriguez Haro III (D-Brownsville) and Diego Zavala (D-Harlingen). The winner of this contest will face the winner of the Republican primary between Rey Gonzalez (R-Harlingen) and Rod Lingsch (R-San Antonio). Vela has held the district since its creation in 2013.
March 3, 2020, also known as Super Tuesday, is Texas’ primary election. Early voting is set for Feb. 18, 2020 through Feb. 28, 2020. Voters must be registered by Feb. 3, 2020, to participate in a primary election. Voters may choose one primary to participate in.
Voters interested in an absentee ballot must send a request post received by Feb. 21, 2020. A completed absentee ballot must be post received by Mar. 4, 2020 at 5 p.m. central standard time.
Other races of note regionally involving Gonzales County in 2020:
District Judge 25th Judicial District
District Judge 2nd 25th Judicial District
Thirteenth District Court of Appeals Place 4
Thirteenth District Court of Appeals Place 6