A lone Republican has entered a crowded field of candidates who want to replace former state Rep. Mark Strama.
Republican Mike VanDeWalle, a chiropractor, said on his Facebook page that if elected, he would oppose the Affordable Care Act and oppose regulation of small businesses.
“As a child living and working on our family’s dairy farm, I saw how destructive needless regulation can be,” VanDeWalle said in a statement. “But in my years as a doctor, I have seen the explosive growth of needless regulation destroy family businesses.”
Since Strama, D-Austin, quit the Legislature in the summer to head up Google Fiber’s efforts in Austin, a special election will have to be held to elect a representative to serve out his term, which ends in January 2015. Voters in District 50 — which includes parts of Austin, Pflugerville, Manor, Elgin and Round Rock — will cast ballots on Nov. 5. If no one receives a majority of the vote, the top two vote-getters — no matter which party — will face each other in a runoff.
Candidates also will have to run in the regular election, which begins with primaries in March.
With the passing of Wednesday’s filing deadline for the special election, VanDeWalle will be the only Republican on the ballot.
Andy Hogue, a spokesman for the Travis County Republican Party, said the party will mobilize behind VanDeWalle, who he called “a highly qualified candidate” with proven business success.
“HD 50 is a winnable district for Republicans,” Hogue said. “We took the seat in 2002 and have run some competitive campaigns since then.”
VanDeWalle joins three Democrats: business owner Jade Chang Sheppard; Realtor Celia Israel; and lawyer Rico Reyes. Another Democrat, lawyer Ramey Ko, cannot run in the special election because he hasn’t lived in the district long enough. But he said he will be eligible for the March primary.
With 58 percent of its voters casting ballots for President Barack Obama last year, any Republican would face an uphill fight to take the seat when the Legislature reconvenes in 2015.
But since the Democratic vote will be spread out among three candidates, the special election in November offers the best opportunity for a Republican to win, Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University, said last month.
But no matter who wins the special election, the newly seated incumbent will not be able to enjoy many of the advantages of incumbency. There would be only five months between a special election runoff and the regularly scheduled primary.