The race to fill the vacancy left by State Rep. Larry Phillips deciding not to run for re-election to the District 62 seat started Tuesday with five candidates, but only went down to four candidates after all the votes were counted.

Only one person was eliminated from the race, because candidates Reggie Smith and Brent Lawson received the two highest number of votes in the Republican Party primary and will next square off in a runoff election in May to determine who will face Democratic Party candidate Valerie Hefner and Libertarian candidate David Schaab in the November general election. The runoff election was triggered because none of the three candidates received more than 50 percent of the votes cast.

Smith received 45.77 percent of the total votes cast in the race — 7,885 votes — and Lawson got 34.34 percent of the votes — 5,916 votes. Couch’s 3,423 total votes accounted for 19.87 percent of the total ballots cast.

Smith received 47.29 percent of the Grayson County votes cast in the Republican primary — or 5,632 votes — to lead the three candidates seeking their party’s support. Lawson got 32.92 percent of the local votes — 3,921 votes — to qualify for the runoff. Kevin Couch’s 2,357 votes received in Grayson County totaled 19.79 percent of the ballots cast by voters.

Running unopposed in the Democratic primary, Hefner received 2,086 votes in Grayson County.

Couch called the race a “long, great, amazing fight” and said he met many amazing people across Grayson, Fannin and Delta counties.

“I will encourage all my supporters to throw their support behind the true conservative in this race, and that’s Brent Lawson,” Couch said shortly before the final results were in Tuesday night. “My undying love and support for everyone who has endorsed and supported my race financially — I truly do appreciate them. The fight continues because I believe that Grayson County deserves a true conservative to represent them, and I believe Brent Lawson is that guy moving forward.”

Lawson’s career in the defense and semiconductor industries includes roles from design engineer to program management to building and managing engineering organizations. He received an even 1,700 votes during early voting and could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

Smith, who is a local attorney, was the Grayson County Republican Party chairman before throwing his hat in the ring for the District 62 seat. Of the more than 5,600 total votes cast for him in Grayson County, 2,918 came during early voting. Smith did not return messages left Tuesday night seeking comment on the election results.

Couch resigned from the Sherman City Council in September, which was less than two years into his first term on the council, to run for the District 62 seat. The CEO of marketing agency CBC Creative in Sherman received 1,078 ballots cast for him in early voting.

Hefner started her career at age 23 as an entry-level worker at a medical supply company and is now an executive with the company. Schaab, who is a Tom Bean resident, is a retired software engineer who previously served on the Tom Bean City Council and as the city’s mayor.