Sherman Attorney Reginald “Reggie” Smith Jr. won the right, Tuesday night, to replace long-time District 62 Rep. Larry Phillips in Austin. District 62 is comprised of Grayson, Fannin, and Delta counties. Smith beat out Democratic challenger Valerie N. Hefner and Libertarian David Schaab.
“I was just very humbled by the tremendous turnout and the margin of victory,” Smith said. “I think that this particular cycle was incredibly volatile, but my opponents ran classy campaigns. I was just extremely happy to have ended up the winner."
He said now that the election is over, the work begins soon.
“I will be sworn in per the special election toward the end of this month. Then the session will begin in the second week of January, and I will be sworn in at that time for the full-term.”
Smith thanked his wife and family "for their sacrifice and desire to serve with me the people of this district. I want to thank my mother and father for their prayers and energetic support as well.”
“Clearly I want to thank the people of this district for the confidence that they have shown me,” he added.
Smith received 31,773 votes or 74.75 percent of the votes cast in the race compared to the 9,885 garnered by Hefner and the 849 that Schaab received. Mail-in ballots will be counted on Wednesday but they are not expected to impact this race given the wide margin of Smith’s lead.
Earlier this year, Smith won the special election to fill the unexpired term left when Phillips was appointed to fill Rayburn Nall’s seat in the 59th state District Court.
He beat Republican challenger Brent Lawson in the primary by getting 72.76 percent of the vote in Grayson County to Lawson’s 27.24 in March.
Phillips announced in November 2017 that he would not be seeking re-election to the District 62 seat. His term was set to expire in early 2019. Phillips, who had represented Grayson County and Fannin County since 2003 and Delta County since 2013, was chairman of the lower chamber’s insurance committee and is a former chairman of the transportation committee, homeland security and public safety committee. He was sworn in as judge in the 59th in May.
Hefner, a 2000 graduate of Sherman High School said watching the last two elections was what made her decide to run for the office.
“It is a crazy, exciting, overwhelming, brutal process, but I’ve had a good time,” Hefner said after the election returns were in on Tuesday night.
“It has been a learning process for sure,” Hefner said. She said she wanted to thank everyone who came out and voted for her and everyone who door knocked and made phone calls. “And to Pam McGraw for being a beast and knocking on every door and Reggie Smith for running a clean campaign,” she added.
Schaab, a retired engineer, couldn’t be immediately reached by phone on election night, but said on Facebook, “I’m happy I have a choice and put out some ideas — who knows what the future might hold.”
He said his experience wouldn’t keep him from running for office in the future, but at 67, he is not sure that his age won’t. “I would like to see my running actually be the basis of forming a better base of like-minded people.”
He said he hopes helped to build the Libertarian brand a bit and that it helps future candidates attract, not only voters but donors as well.
Schaab came to Grayson County in 19984 and was a former city council member and mayor for Tom Bean. His past service in the community included an election judge, a clerk and a GOP state delegate according to information on his campaign website. He was also active with the local soccer association and a high school sports official.