A local political candidate is either hoping no one was paying attention to what he did, or trying to find a way to “spin” the role he played in another race, just two months before he found himself in a runoff election. Either way, he has a decision to make.
State Representative Steve Toth District 15 (R-The Woodlands), was nowhere near wrapping up his first term in office when he decided to run for the State Senate seat vacated by Tommy Williams. Toth and two others took on third-term State Rep. Brandon Creighton District 16 (R-Conroe) in last week’s special election. Frontrunner Creighton received 46.2 percent of the vote, falling short of the requisite 50 percent and forcing a runoff with Toth, who received 27.2 percent. Unfortunately for Toth, a strong stand he took on the heels of the March 4 Primary has some wondering if the first term legislator made a rookie mistake.
The concept of a united front is not new, especially in politics, and is often used to try and sway party members as a whole or individually. There may be no better example than when none of the three candidates received over 50 percent of the vote in the Republican Primary for Texas Attorney General, triggering a runoff between State Representative Dan Branch and Texas Senator Ken Paxton. Many felt the runoff was the direct result of more than two candidates, just as in the four candidate race for Williams’ Senate seat that has resulted in the runoff between Creighton and Toth.
However, the top two Attorney General candidates had a narrower margin. Ken Paxton had 44.4 percent of the vote, while Dan Branch had 33.5 percent. Shortly thereafter, Steve Toth and 13 other legislators sent an “open” letter to Dan Branch asking him to withdraw from the race. The widely publicized letter was carefully constructed and persuasively worded, with an obvious but eloquent “take one for the team” theme.
The second sentence cuts to the chase, stating, “Rather than moving forward with a campaign that will divide Texas Republicans, we hope upon careful reflection you will agree with us that moving forward with this continued campaign is not in the best interests of you, our party, or the state we know you dearly love.”
The letter continues, explaining how Branch would waste party resources by remaining in the race, not to mention the necessity that Republicans band together as soon as possible to defeat the Democrats in November. The document makes its case, listing each county Branch lost to Paxton, and even points out one of them was Branch’s home county. After a few more harsh lines reinforcing what the letter’s signers see as the obvious futility, waste, and overall detriment of Branch’s continued campaign, the patronizing tone returns and Branch is again reminded they are all fighting the same battle.
The final paragraph has the feel of a young man trying to persuade the object of his affection to compromise her morals. It begins by telling Branch they “respect and admire” him, which is the reason they are making the request they say can only benefit the State of Texas and the Republican Party. The letter tells Branch they understand he faces “a difficult and very personal decision,” but exuberantly explains that if he does as the group asks, he will have the “lasting respect and admiration” of the entire state.
Two months closer to November, Toth has found himself in a runoff.
Upon hearing the election results, Toth was quoted by multiple media outlets as saying he and his camp were “excited” by the results and “looking forward” to the runoff.
To read the full letter, click here