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Runoffs Will Decide November Candidates To Replace U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon
Mary Wilson, second from left, talks with supporters at an election watch party Tuesday at El Arroyo in West Austin. Wilson will compete in a runoff for the Democratic nomination for House District 21.

Four candidates emerged Tuesday from a field of 22 to face off in runoff elections to replace U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith in Congress.

Joseph Kopser and Mary Wilson will compete in the Democratic runoff, while Chip Roy and Matt McCall will vie for the Republican nomination. The runoff elections are scheduled for May 22.

The race for Texas' 21st Congressional District promised to be one of the most competitive in the state. Smith, a Republican who has held the seat since 1987, announced his retirement last year. Eighteen candidates fought for the Republican nomination, while four Democrats tried to prove to their voters that they could flip the heavily gerrymandered district.

The district has a toehold in Austin along the city's center and South Austin, then stretches down into San Antonio and cuts a huge swath west across the Hill Country to include Fredericksburg and Kerrville. It ends about 70 miles from the Mexico border.

Credit Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT
Joseph Kopser talks with supporters at The Park in South Austin on Tuesday. Kopser will got enough votes to go to a runoff for the Democratic nomination for House District 21.

“Even though it is a giant district, we have far more in common than we do separate,” Kopser said. “So, the geography doesn’t make a difference. The distance doesn’t bother me.”

Kopser spent 20 years in the Army and has since helped launch several tech businesses in Austin.

Wilson spent decades as an educator and is now a minister. She said she feels voters are ready for a different type of candidate and a different type of discussion of issues.

“We don’t need to be tearing each other apart,” she said. “And an ethic of love means we have to sit down and really listen to each other, talk to each other.”

Roy was once chief of staff for Sen. Ted Cruz, while McCall runs a business exporting medical supplies.

Jimmy is the assistant program director, but still reports on business and sports every now and then. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @maasdinero.
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