Texas House District 53 GOP candidates make first dual appearance

Gun Rights

The two Republican candidates running for the Texas House District 53 seat are both attending the same political event in Llano County for the first time on Feb. 8. Hatch Smith and Wes Virdell will visit with voters at an informal meet-and-greet at 8 a.m. Thursday at the Kingsland Branch Library, 125 W. Polk St.

Smith and Virdell are on the March 5 primary ballot seeking their party’s nomination for the November general election. 

Thursday’s event is hosted by the Kingsland Chamber of Commerce. Attendees can arrive early at 7:45 a.m. for coffee before the event begins. 

Each candidate will be given 10 minutes to make an introduction, after which they will stick around for coffee and conversations with the audience.

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Texas House District 53 is currently represented by Andrew Murr, who chose to not file for re-election. He has held the seat since 2014. 

The district is composed of 16 counties spread across a wide swathe of Central, Western, and South Texas, including Llano, Bandera, Crane, Crockett, Edwards, Kerr, Kimble, Mason, McCulloch, Medina, Menard, Pecos, Real, Schleicher, Sutton, and Upton counties. The estimated population of the region is about 200,000. Llano County makes up around 11 percent of that with roughly 22,000 estimated residents as of 2022.

Early voting for the primaries is Feb. 20-March 1. Election Day is March 5.

THE CANDIDATES

HATCH SMITH

Smith is a Llano native and lives in the county. He is chief administrative officer of the MidCoast Central Medical Center health system. He also operates a multi-generational family ranch in Llano County, owns RedSmith Genetics, and manages a cow-and-calf operation, D.P. Smith and Sons. 

He was appointed to the Lower Colorado River Authority Board of Directors and the Governor’s Broadband Development Council in 2022 by Gov. Greg Abbott. 

His platform includes border security, rural infrastructure improvements, tax and regulation cuts, Second Amendment rights, anti-abortion laws, and support for rural education.

Among Smith’s supporters are the National Rifle Association, former Gov. Rick Perry, the Texas Farm Bureau, the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, the Texas Hospital Association, and Save Lake LBJ.

WES VIRDELL

Virdell was born in Brownwood but raised in Brady, where he now lives. He is the Texas state director for Gun Owners of America. He also operates his own business, Virdell Transport, and supports his family business, Virdell Diesel Service. 

Virdell is a U.S. Air Force veteran who served from 2001-08. He was selected as a state delegate for the Republican Party of Texas in 2020 and 2022. 

He is running on a platform of gun rights, anti-abortion laws, election reform, parental rights, border security, abolishing property taxes, and medical freedom.

Among Virdell’s supporters are Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, Gun Owners of America, Texas Right to Life, the True Texas Project, and the Llano Tea Party.

dakota@thepicayune.com

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