GOP Duo Share Prize for Primary Showings
as the Top Candidate and the Best Campaign
November 10, 2022
Austin-area Republicans Ellen Troxclair and Carrie Isaac came up in state politics together and campaigned like a tag-team en route to blowout victories that were foregone conclusions in open Texas House races in the general election this week. Troxclair and Isaac ran to the right of establishment rivals together in the primary and runoff elections with campaign messages that were all but identical. They even swapped endorsements in the early stages of their races - and they celebrated together in the winner's circle after crushing Democrats who had no chance with more than 70 percent of the vote apiece.
It's only fitting that they share an award in the biennial Capitol Inside honors for the best performances on the campaign trail in Texas during the election year that ended this week at the ballot box. But Troxclair and Isaac won bids for the west wing of the Capitol in May in overtime duels with a pair of highly formidable primary foes in Justin Berry and Barron Casteel respectively. The GOP female duo are being recognized together here today in a tie for best primary campaign in the Lone Star State in 2022.
Troxclair was the best candidate in Texas on paper this year on either side of the aisle in races at the state and federal levels. The complete and total package, Troxclair had bundles of experience as a former Austin City Council as its youngest member and only Republican during a four-year stint. She had a resume that was custom-made for a GOP primary in Texas - having served as a senior fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation after tours of duty as the chief of staff for two state representatives. One of the former employers in the House was Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian. The other was former House Republican Jason Issac, whose wife happens to be the state rep-elect with the same last name.
Isaac the incoming lawyer wasn't as smooth or polished on the surface compared to her husband's former aide. But Isaac from the view here ran the best campaign in the primary runoff by virtue of the fact that faced the tougher opponent and ran as an underdog until the finish line in OT when she eliminated Casteel with less than 51 percent of the vote. Casteel had been a popular mayor in the rapidly-growing Comal County city of New Braunfels as the northern apex of the San Antonio area. Casteel's mother served four terms in the Legislature lower chamber as a member of the first freshmen class in the GOP majority era. Casteel had raised almost $770,000 heading into the final week before the runoff compared to less than $554,000 that Isaac
Isaac and Troxclair had the unique distinction of having their own Republican Governor Greg Abbott working to defeat them in the second round of the primary when he issued endorsements to Casteel and Berry with testimonials on why in his mind they would be the better legislators. But Casteel also GOP Speaker Dade Phelan in his corner for overtime. Phelan had even more cause to want Casteel to win after tales surfaced on a secretly-recorded tape of Isaac threatening to lead a mutiny in the House when the speaker is elected in January. Isaac also received an endorsement from State Rep. Tony Tinderholt - an Arlington Republican and Texas Freedom Caucus charter member who's challenging Phelan in the speaker's election on opening day of the 2023 regular session two months from now.
Isaac and Troxclair countered the Abbott spurning with endorsements that they received in tandem from U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Christian and arch-conservative groups like Texas Right to Life and Texas Values Action. But while Troxclair came across the ultimate soccer mom who chairs the PTA, Isaac pushed the envelope more like she did with Twitter photos that showed her flaunting an assault rifle with poses that would have would made Proud Boys even prouder.
A grand jury threw a curve into the Troxclair gameplan when it charged Berry and a bunch of other Austin police officers with the use of unjustified force when trying to tame social justice protests that erupted in the Capital City after George Floyd's murder by cops in Minnesota. Berry reaped the kind of publicity that could be a boon for Republicans in more conservative locations than the state's most liberal city that he's paid to protect. But Troxclair beat him with nearly 57 percent of the House District 19 vote in the runoff when Isaac captured the nomination in House District 73.
The Capitol Inside Best of the Texas Elections series is being rolled out in installments as they come to pass. Future congressional member Monica De La Cruz is the subject of part one as the general election MVP and best campaign in an open race in Texas in 2022