Fifth-generation Texan advances past GOP primary runoff to take on progressive homeless activist

State Rep. Craig Goldman secured the Republican nomination for the open 12th Congressional District in Texas in a runoff Tuesday, a seat opening up due to the retirement of Rep. Kay Granger, according to the Associated Press.

Goldman won in a runoff after neither candidate received more than 50% of the vote in the March primary. Granger has held the seat since 1997 but is retiring at the end of the term. 

The race had been a demonstration of the split in the state’s Republican Party. O’Shea had framed himself an “America First” candidate and had touted the backing of Attorney General Ken Paxton and Trump allies, including Roger Stone and Gen. Michael Flynn.

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“It is an honor to support John O’Shea for Texas’ 12th. John is a friend who I have found to be a dedicated husband and father who will put family, faith and country first,” Paxton said in a statement backing the candidate. 

O’Shea argued the U.S. “has a number of higher priority issues that must be addressed to ensure our citizens are taken care of before focusing on other global matters.”

Goldman, a fifth-generation Texan, meanwhile, had the endorsement of Gov. Greg Abbott and Speaker Dade Phelan, and had voted to impeach Paxton in 2023.  He had promised to be a “conservative fighter who will prioritize border security and the American taxpayer.”

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O’Shea had used that vote for Paxton’s impeachment to hit his opponent. 

“There is a civil war in the party in the state of Texas,” O’Shea said in April, according to the Texas Tribune. “I like to characterize it as the America First-Paxton side, and then there’s the establishment team Phelan side. You have a candidate who represents each one of those two sides. The choice is clear. Now, you have a chance to choose.”

Goldman has pushed back against claims he is less conservative than O’Shea, arguing he had a proven conservative voting record.

“That’s the difference between John and I,” Goldman said at an April debate, according to KERA News.

The winner of the Republican primary runoff will face Trey Hunt, a progressive activist and mental health professional who has been outspoken on homeless issues. Hunt, whose campaign website says he was “born and raised in Southwest Fort Worth,” is running to push for “reform in the criminal justice system,” “guaranteeing abortion rights” for women and other issues.

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Both Republican candidates have emphasized their stances on tackling illegal immigration in a state that has been on the frontline of the ongoing migrant crisis at the southern border. They have both also highlighted their positions on abortion and Second Amendment rights.

It’s one of a number of races in which Abbott and Paxton have chosen opposing candidates. They have done so in five separate races. Both lawmakers have scores to settle, with Paxton targeting those Republicans who voted to impeach him last year on corruption charges and Abbott eyeing those who defeated his 2023 education plan. The school voucher measure, which was Abbott’s top legislative item last year, passed the state Senate, but its defeat in the state House was a rare political setback for Abbott.

“It’s a power play and definitely a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party of Texas, and Gov. Abbott wants to get legislators in there who will support his agenda,” veteran Texas-based Republican strategist Brendan Steinhauser told Fox News.

Granger had backed Goldman for the seat, touting his credentials as a “staunch advocate for a strong national defense.”

Phelan faces his own challenge in District 21 from oil and gas consultant David Covey. Phelan oversaw the impeachment effort against Paxton. He was later censured by the Texas GOP for the effort. 

Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser and the Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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