BELTON — State Rep. Hugh Shine secured his second consecutive term Tuesday night as challengers CJ Grisham and Brandon Hall came up short in their bids to replace the Temple legislator.
Shine received 6,907 votes (60.18 percent), according to unofficial results issued by the Bell County Elections Department. Hall got 2,457 votes (21.41 percent) and Grisham earned 2,113 votes (18.41 percent).
This will be Shine’s overall fourth term in the Legislature. After a 30 year hiatus, he returned to the Texas House in 2016 after defeating then-state Rep. Molly White by 104 votes.
“I certainly feel at peace and I feel a great deal of relief,” Shine said, touting how hard his wife, Debbie, and volunteers have worked to help earn his victory.
Shine attributed his win to the fact that he had the support of the community. He said he has focused on constituent issues.
“Having the respect that I have built in Austin, I can call the agencies and talk to them and get things done for the folks here at home. To me that is one of the most gratifying things, taking care of people,” Shine said.
Hall, a political newcomer, said he was disappointed that he came in second. However, he said, he was excited to have been a part of the political process.
“We went up against a very, very established opponent,” Hall said. “He’s a very well-skilled politician, very well funded and he has deep connections in the community. So basically what we see tonight is that what the people really want is someone who they know.”
Like Hall, Grisham was also disappointed by Tuesday’s results.
“We put in a good fight,” he said. “But I can lose this with my head held high and I think Shine’s win (he) should have his head hanging in shame the way he ran his campaign. You know what, a win is a win. We did what we could do and it wasn’t good enough.”
One factor that Grisham said contributed to his loss were his controversial Facebook posts criticizing what he called bad law enforcement officers. In some of the posts, the Open Carry Texas founder described bad cops as “thugs and cowards,” said he is “done feeling bad when cops get shot,” and that such officers “should all be lined up and executed.”
“I think what really happened all this stuff about the way the police statements were taken out of context, Shine was able to capitalize on that and use it to his advantage,” Grisham said. “People, I guess, were bought into it. He told a really good lie and it worked.”
Grisham, who had a well-publicized run-in with Temple Police officers on an armed hike, stood by his comments — except for his “cops get shot” remarks. He backtracked on that comment, saying it was a poor choice of words.
Two state police groups — the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas and The Texas Municipal Police Association — came out against Grisham.
Locally, the Temple Police Association asked its members and supporters to “vote their conscience” in this race. Larry Wilkey, the group’s president, criticized not only Grisham’s comments, but also Hall’s response.
As for Hall, he said fundraising was a factor in his loss.
“To be outspent 10-to-1 is very difficult. This was a David vs. Goliath situation,” the Calvary Chapel pastor said.
More than half a million dollars poured in this House race, with Shine receiving more than half of it.
It has also been a target of political action committees. Nearly $285,000 has come from PAC donations. Shine received a total of $232,526.68 from PACs. Grisham accepted $33,000 and Hall brought in $19,080 from PACs.
The race for the House seat has centered on the question of who is the true conservative. All three men have seized this title.
To shore up their conservative bona fides, the men emphasized their anti-abortion views, border security and property tax stances. And Shine already has plans in the work to address the latter two issues.
He said he plans to continue his work on property tax transparency and reform issues. Shine pointed to Gov. Greg Abbott taking his proposal to require the Legislature to fund all of its expenditures rather than passing the buck to localities as a victory.
In about a month, Shine said he will be on the U.S.-Mexico border working with the Texas Department of Safety to see first-hand the issues that the Legislature will need to deal with when lawmakers meet again in January 2019. Shine said he also plans to work on school finance.
“You’ve got to be hands on and I’m a hands-on type of person,” Shine said, using his experience leading a military troop and his business as examples. “That’s the way I am in the community.”