by JEN BIUNDO
In his first hard-fought political race at the age of 24, Patrick Rose stole the District 45 House seat away from incumbent Rick Green by just 400 votes, a margin of less than one percent.
But in the eight years that have followed, the Dripping Springs native has easily defended his seat against challengers from both parties, and Tuesday night’s primary elections were no exception.
Rose took just shy of 80 percent of the vote in the Democratic primaries against Driftwood resident Andrew Backus, the former chair of the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District.
“I am proud that tonight this district spoke loudly for a positive, issue-oriented campaign that put consensus-building and solutions ahead of partisanship and divisiveness,” Rose said as the election returns rolled in Tuesday night.
The District 45 seat represents Hays, Caldwell and Blanco Counties in the State House. Rose will go on to face Dripping Springs GOP businessman Jason Isaac in the general election.
“I’m positive we will be keeping the seat in November,” said Hays County Democratic Party Chair Katie Bell Moore.
Though the race and other in the past turned into an overwhelming victory, Rose said he takes each challenge seriously in his bellwether district.
“Each of them could have been close,” Rose said. “Each party has to go out and run each time, and that’s a blessing for the voters. It rewards the consensus builders.”
Backus took 23.57 percent of the Hays County vote and 20.29 percent of the ballots in the tri-county district. He ran a race that primarily centered on water issues; specifically, Rose’s refusal to sponsor legislation expanding the authority of the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District.
On the campaign trail, Rose countered that he was endorsed by environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters, and has been a leader in groundwater and surface water issues.
Other issues in the race included job growth, road infrastructure, higher education and conservation in the Hill County.
“Our local economy is the most important thing on the voters’ minds,” Rose said.
Rose currently chairs the House Human Services Committee and also serves on the House Higher Education Committee. He is widely considered to have broad support, both politically and financially, on both sides of the aisle, and is heading into the general election with more than $350,000 in the bank.
After 2010, Rose said that he is “absolutely planning to run for another term” in the District 45 seat.
“I’m excited to stay here and continue our work,” Rose said.
Tuesday night, 3,460 Democrats and 9,457 Republicans turned out to the polls.
Rick Green, the former District 45 State Representative who lost his seat to a young Patrick Rose in the 2002 races – and then made headlines in 2006 for throwing a punch at Rose outside an Election Day polling place — made a bid this year on the GOP ticket for the Supreme Court Justice Place 3 nomination.
Hays County voters gave their native son 41 percent of the vote in a crowded field of six candidates, but statewide, Green took just 19 percent of the vote, putting him in a run-off with Debra Lehrmann.
In other upballot races, more than 85 percent of Hays County Democrats turned out for gubernatorial candidate Bill White, well above the state returns of 75.97 percent, while 8.14 percent supported Farouk Shami, compared to state returns of 12.59 percent.
Hays County voters showed a strong preference for Lieutenant Governor candidate Ronnie Earle, but voters statewide gave Linda Chavez-Thompson the nomination.
Among GOP voters in Hays County, 52.37 percent supported incumbent governor Rick Perry in his bruising three-way primary race, close to the statewide turnout of 51.2 percent.
But Hays County made a strong 26 percent showing for Debra Medina, the long-shot candidate who went on to pull 18.48 percent at the statewide polls and nearly force Perry into a run-off with Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Jen Biundo is managing editor of the Hays Free Press where this article was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership between the Mercury and the Free Press.Email | Print