Republicans' forum

Staff photo by Albert Villegas

Mark Longoria, who is the deputy district director for Rep. Michael Cloud grabs a water bottle after speaking to a packed house of potential voters during a “Meet the Candidates" forum at Mikeska’s BBQ restaurant on Thursday, Feb. 6. A similar Wharton forum will be held in Wharton on Tuesday, Feb. 11.


More than 100 people gathered for the first of two Republican “Meet the Candidates forums at Mikeska’s BBQ Restaurant on Thursday, Feb. 6.

Candidates in the race for the state’s 85th Congressional District, the state’s 27th U.S. Congressional District, and Wharton County tax assessor-collector, district attorney, sheriff, and commissioner for Precinct 3, were introduced by officials with the Wharton County Republican Party.

The lone candidate who is unchallenged for the Republican Primary on Tuesday, March 3 is Rep. Michael Cloud, who was absent. However, his Deputy District Director Mark Longoria, spoke on his behalf.

Cloud’s challenge will come in November when he takes on the Democratic winner between Rick de la Fuente and Charlie Jackson. 

The most lively debate came between District Attorney Dawn Allison and challenger John Maher. During a break, an official with the Wharton County Republican Party, which put on the event, said the forum did deviate from what had been scheduled. It allowed Allison and Maher to take turns at the podium and tell attendees why they were the best person for the job.

They will square off again in Wharton next week. Based on what was heard, there appears to be a lot left in the tank about how each feels about what are the responsibilities of the office and who should run it. 

Sheriff Shannon Srubar, who is being challenged by Robert Macek, said “time ran out” when he was about to let attendees know just how he is the better candidate for the post. The men were cordial with one another, reading off prepared statements that explained how they were the best person to lead. Srubar will have his chance to relay what he didn’t say in El Campo when the GOP hosts its second Meet the Candidates forum at Grace Community Fellowship in Wharton on Tuesday, Feb. 11. It begins at 6:30 p.m.

Towards the end of their presentation for the 85th District, Rep. Phil Stephenson did take a shot at both his challengers, saying he was the lone candidate who knows Texas because he has lived here longer than both of them. Robert Boettcher has lived in several states, but now calls Texas his home. The other challenger, Abolaji Tijani Ayobami, resides in Richmond, and is of African descent. 

The tax assessor-collector’s race is between Cindy Hernandez, Jessica Schultz and Sarah Hudgins. Two of the candidates already work in the office that was vacated by Patrick Kubala more than a year ago. Hudgins said her experience working in real estate nearly 20 years has given her insight into the laws that apply to personal property. 

The last candidates that attendees were introduced to were those who are running for Pct. 3, including incumbent Steven Goetsch and his challengers Rudy Ochoa and Matt Lutringer.

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