The race to become the next Texas land commissioner
An eye surgeon endorsed by former President Trump and a wealthy conservationist are vying to become the new Texas land commissioner.
- The Republican candidate is Dawn Buckingham, a state senator from Lakeway. The Democratic candidate is Jay Kleberg, former associate director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. His family owns the King Ranch.
Why it matters: The land commissioner oversees the Texas General Land Office (GLO), which manages public land and beaches, administers natural disaster relief funding, helps fund public education and maintains the Alamo.
- The land commissioner also chairs the Veterans Land Board, which oversees nine veterans homes and four veterans cemeteries.
Context: The GLO is the oldest public agency in the state.
State of play: The seat is open after incumbent George P. Bush ran for attorney general instead. Bush lost in the GOP primary in May.
The big picture: While no Texas Democrat has won statewide office since 1994, Kleberg has spent roughly twice as much as Buckingham, per campaign filings from the end of October.
- He's spent nearly $1.4 million and she's spent nearly $700,000.
Yes, but: In the May primary, roughly 115,000 more people voted for Buckingham than voted in the Democratic runoff altogether.
- And heading into the final turn, she had $500,000 on hand to his $125,000, per the end-of-October filing.
The intrigue: The two candidates have campaigned in very different ways. Kleberg went on a 10-stop campaign tour of dance halls in deeply red parts of the state. Buckingham participated in what she called a "guns to gowns" tour, according to her Instagram.
What they're saying: "I think that what we're trying to do is get back to a place where Texans elect people based on their experience and their qualifications and their being fit for service," Kleberg told the Texas Tribune last month.
The other side: The GLO oversees veterans nursing homes, which Buckingham told WFAA is "right up my alley as a physician." She added: "People come to me with their problems, and we fix their problems."
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