It’s somewhat uncommon for a sitting U.S. Senator to endorse a challenger against an incumbent member of his own party. However, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz has recently announced his endorsement of Huntsville businessman Ben Bius, who is running to unseat State Rep. Kyle Kacal (R-College Station).
“Ben has the real-life experience to provide fiscal responsibility and strong pro-life convictions to stand up for the most vulnerable,” said Cruz. “That’s why I am proud to endorse Ben Bius for State Representative. Ben is a fighter, a champion for Texas, he supports school choice, and I hope you’ll join me in supporting him.”
Despite representing a very conservative rural district that sprawls up the Brazos River Valley, Kacal is a moderate. A study from Rice University ranked him as the third least conservative Republican in the Texas House in 2021.
First elected in 2012, Kacal has not faced a serious primary challenger in any of his re-election campaigns. However, this time may be different.
Last year’s redistricting process left Kacal’s House District 12 substantially altered. Rural Texas’ loss in population in proportion to the state’s fast growing urban areas meant that some rural districts had to be consolidated. All but two of the six counties in Kacal’s reconfigured district are new, including Walker County, which is now the most populous county in the district. Walker County happens to be the home of Bius.
A real major Huntsville estate developer and the owner of B&B properties, Bius is challenging Kacal from the right. Bius ran unsuccessfully for an open state senate seat in 2012, a race ultimately won by State Senator Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown).
However, 2022 could be Bius’ year. In addition to being endorsed by Cruz, he has been endorsed by Texas Right to Life, the state’s largest pro-life organization. Retiring State Representative Ben Leman (R-Anderson) is also supporting Bius. Much of Leman’s former HD-13 has been redrawn into the new HD-12.
With so much of HD-12 now new territory for Kacal, he will lose some of the benefits of incumbency. And with his opponent hailing from the most populous county in the district and having the backing of an outgoing state representative, Kacal may be in real trouble.
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