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Brent Hagenbuch wins GOP primary runoff for open Texas Senate seat


Brent Hagenbuch wins GOP primary runoff for open Texas Senate seat

May 28, 2024 | 10:35 pm ET
By Renzo Downey
Brent Hagenbuch declares victory in GOP primary runoff for open Texas Senate seat
Candidate for state Senate District 30 Brent Hagenbuch. (Social media)

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Former Denton County GOP Chair Brent Hagenbuch has won the Republican primary runoff to succeed retiring state Sen. Drew Springer, R-Muenster.

Hagenbuch had a double-digit lead over attorney Jace Yarbrough when he declared victory at 9:20 p.m. As the Republican nominee in a district that’s solidly red, Hagenbuch is expected to win the seat in November.

Hagenbuch, a transportation executive and former U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps officer, secured the nomination Tuesday after finishing with 36% in the March 5 primary. Yarbrough, a conservative activist and Air Force veteran, was close behind in that initial round, taking 34% in the four-candidate field.

“Serving in the Texas Senate was never anything I aspired to. It is God’s timing,” Hagenbuch said in a statement.

“I look forward to spending the remainder of the year, continuing to travel the District, and preparing to represent the interests of our area in the Texas Senate. The voters have made clear that border security, education choice, property taxes, and economic growth are top priorities. They will be my focus.”

Both candidates pitched themselves as rock-solid conservatives who would support the state’s continued rightward drift on everything from abortion to guns to immigration.

But unlike the case for many GOP primary runoffs, the race fractured alliances between top Republican officials and the grassroots, who teamed up to oust incumbents.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the leader of the Texas Senate, endorsed Hagenbuch shortly after he entered the race and has been one of his most vocal supporters. Springer, Gov. Greg Abbott, former President Donald Trump also endorsed Hagenbuch, as did Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, 2022 gubernatorial candidate and former state Sen. Don Huffines, and state Sen. Bob Hall, R-Edgewood.

Yarbrough’s supporters included the tea party groups True Texas Project and Grassroots America, and their respective leaders, Julie McCarty and JoAnn Fleming. Also backing him were Kyle Rittenhouse, the right-wing activist famously acquitted of killing two Black Lives Matter protesters in 2020; incoming Dallas County Republican Party Chair Allen West, who previously led the Texas GOP; retiring state Rep. Matt Schaefer, who formerly chaired the Texas House Freedom Caucus; and Shelley Luther, the former Dallas salon owner who famously defied Abbott’s pandemic lockdown order and unseated state Rep. Reggie Smith, R-Sherman.

In a statement, Yarbrough conceded and told supporters to stay tuned for what comes next.

“Whatever God has planned in the future for me and my family, I plan to keep fighting for the conservative values our state holds dear,” Yarbrough said. “I have no regrets about the campaign — rather, I’m grateful for the opportunity to stand up for the values I believe in.”

Questions about Hagenbuch’s residency and whether he could run in the district shadowed his primary campaign — and aren’t resolved yet. The third-place primary candidate Carrie De Moor, later joined by Yarbrough, sued Hagenbuch, arguing that his primary residence was in neighboring Senate District 12 rather than the office building listed in his SD 30 campaign filings.

A judge allowed Hagenbuch to continue campaigning while the suit plays out, and there’s been no activity in that case since March. Yarbrough reignited the issue this weekend at the conclusion of the Texas GOP Convention, when he submitted a challenge to new party Chair Abraham George that would have Hagenbuch replaced on the general election ballot.

If Hagenbuch is declared ineligible by a court before late August, he could lose his place on the ballot. A GOP executive committee, likely precinct chairs in the district, would then elect a replacement candidate. In that event, the runner-up becomes a top contender to be the new nominee.

Hagenbuch has long insisted that he lives in the district, and suggested his rivals are trying to keep him off the ballot because they couldn’t defeat him otherwise.

Hagenbuch will go on in November to face Michael Braxton or Dale Frey, who are in the Democratic runoff for SD 30.

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