Incumbent Chuck Hopson lost his seat to Nacogdoches attorney Travis Clardy in a runoff election Tuesday for District 11 state representative.
District 11, which no longer includes Houston and Panola counties, entails Cherokee, Rusk and Nacogdoches counties.
Hopson received 7,817 votes, or 49 percent, while Clardy received 8,184 votes, or 51 percent, according to complete but unofficial results on the Secretary of State's website. Clardy does not have a Democratic opponent in the general election in November.
“It's been a long day but a great day,” Clardy, 50, said late Tuesday. “We're going to enjoy the night, but tomorrow we'll kind of clean things off, roll up our sleeves and get ready to work.”
He said that means talking with county officials in the district to help identify priorities and talking with people in Austin.
“Education, energy and water — those are things we want to work for — we want to protect things here whether it's (Stephen F. Austin State University, Rusk State Hospital) or taking care of the energy sector,” he said.
Clardy also thanked his family and his supporters “who helped make this night possible.”
He also thanked Hopson and his wife. Hopson could not be reached by press time.
Clardy, who has never held elected office, has described himself as the true conservative representative in the race.
He campaigned to return local control to school classrooms and said, “People are tired of money being spent to grow government.”
In addition to his work as an attorney, Clardy served on the executive board of the East Texas Boy Scouts, is a Paul Harris Fellow at the Nacogdoches Rotary Club, is a sponsor of the Heartbeat Pregnancy Center and is an active member of the North Street Church of Christ, according to his campaign website.
Hopson, a 70-year-old pharmacist from Jacksonville, has said one of the most important things for people to know about him is that he's an experienced person, as he has served not only in the Legislature but also on the Jacksonville City Council, Jacksonville ISD school board and Jacksonville Planning and Zoning Commission.
“I've done a lot of things. I think experience will make a huge difference,” Hopson said in March, adding that he was raised in a family that gives back to the community.
“What people have found out is whether I'm on the city council or school board, they find me to be an honest person. They find me to be hard-working. I think that's the big difference. I have a long history of doing this, and people trusting me is the most important thing.”
“We believe in God and guns, and we want to protect all that stuff,” Hopson said earlier this year. With water resources, “We want to make sure ... we protect it and don't let someone take it away.”
Hopson, a former Democrat, has been in the state House since 2000. He switched parties in 2009, saying at the time, “I don't agree with the plan in Washington now for the future of our country. I'm not in favor of the health care bill that passed. It doesn't represent my views or it doesn't represent the views of my district or the people that live in my district.”
As the Democratic incumbent, Hopson faced Republican challenger Brian Walker in 2008 and prevailed after a recount.