Though the candidate pool is largely Republican, the race for the District 28 seat in the Texas House of Representatives could be won by a Democrat.
Democrats all over the state and even across the country are trying to push Eliz Markowitz to victory in a district historically controlled by Republicans, with Richmond’s John Zerwas having held the Fort Bend County seat since 2007. He stepped down in August after being named Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs for the University of Texas system.
Markowitz is the only Democrat in a seven-candidate field vying to replace Zerwas in a special election on Nov. 5, with early voting having begun Monday. The former schoolteacher who was raised in Sugar Land has received nearly $62,000 in campaign contributions and gotten donations from all over the United States with the help of ActBlue, an online fundraising platform that connects donors to Democrats, progressive groups and nonprofits.
In the 2018 election for the District 28 seat, which serves Fulshear, Simonton and part of Sugar Land, Zerwas beat Democrat Meghan Scoggins by fewer than 7,000 votes in a race in which nearly 82,000 ballots were cast.
“I believe in representation that is bigger than politics or political parties, and I believe we can work together to find common-sense solutions that work for all Texans,” Markowitz said in a statement released by her campaign. “Whether it’s expanding access to healthcare, improving disaster management or making sure our kids are safe in school, there’s so much work to be done and so much we can all agree on.”
A group of Republicans is trying to stop the Democratic wave that rolled through Fort Bend County last November. And if no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote this November, the top two will compete in a runoff in December.
The Republican candidates in District 28 are Houston anesthesiologist Anna Allred, Rosenberg businessman Gary Gates, Katy businessman and former Drug Enforcement Agency official Gary Hale, Katy attorney Tricia Krenek, Richmond saleswoman Sarah Laningham and Katy engineer Clinton Purnell. According to the latest campaign finance reports filed with the state, Allred, Gates and Krenek have the most financial support among them.
Allred, with significant backing from her medical field, has received more than $158,000 in contributions and had a remaining contribution balance of more than $86,000 as of the end of the last reporting period.
“I am not a politician. I’m a physician who, as an outsider to politics, who brings a fresh perspective and new ideas,” Allred said. “I would like to be your future voice in the Texas legislative crossroads where a physician voice can make a difference for constituents. The skills that allowed me to be successful in my training and in my practice along with the additional training and experiences I have had advocating for patients makes me uniquely qualified to move from medical advocacy to become an elected representative.”
Gates, while mostly self-funding his campaign through loans, had spent more than any other candidate in the race as of the end of the last reporting period. His campaign recently ran ads on cable TV, as did the campaign of Markowitz.
Krenek, with the help of a loan from her law firm, has more money to spend than any other candidate in the race. She had a remaining contribution balance of more than $113,000 as of Sept. 26. Among Krenek’s donors is Larry Johnson, the chairman and CEO of prominent area developer Johnson Development Corp.
Krenek has focused on flood mitigation throughout her campaign and said she would prioritize local flood projects and urge a one-time withdrawal from the state’s rainy day fund to build an additional reservoir and clean up existing bayous and tributaries.
“For House District 28 to continue to thrive, we must have strong, conservative leadership that will deliver results on the issues affecting our community,” Krenek said. “My experience in and commitment to public service, coupled with my ties to the local community set me apart from the other candidates in this race.”
While Hale, Laningham and Purnell don’t have as much money to spend between now and Nov. 5, they shouldn’t be counted out. Hale, the former DEA intelligence official, said his mission to protect and serve is exactly what District 28’s seat would allow him to do.
He said constituents have come to him with concerns about flood mitigation, education and teacher pay, immigration and human trafficking, veterans care and homelessness.
“These recurring themes impact on our daily lives because we are a border state that is the entry point for hundreds of thousands of migrants arriving from Central America on a daily basis and we are also at the end of the bowling alley of hurricanes that arrive in Texas almost yearly,” Hale said.
For more information on each of the candidates, visit their campaign websites. To find out more about your polling location and election information, visit fortbendcountytx.gov.