First Republican senator from Travis County in modern memory could be elected

Dawn Buckingham with supporters outside Bee Cave City Hall (KXAN Photo)
Dawn Buckingham with supporters outside Bee Cave City Hall (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Senate District 24—an area that stretches from west Austin to San Angelo, all the way up to Abilene and then back to Belton and Temple—has consistently been a GOP stronghold, but it has never had a GOP candidate from Travis County hold that office. That could happen soon. For the first time in modern memory, the first Republican senator from Travis County could be elected.

Senator Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, who currently represents the district, chose not to run. Dr. Dawn Buckingham lives in Travis County.

A small group of supporters cheered and held signs for Dawn Buckingham outside of Bee Cave City Hall, where she cast her vote – a straight Republican ticket.

“As long as the federal government fails us, we need to step up at the state legislature and secure our border. We have significant problems with infrastructure between roads and water. We have challenges in education,” said Buckingham.

She goes on to say the state should make it easier for parents to decide to send their children to private school or home school one, of the starkest contrasts with her Democratic opponent. But either way the election turns out, it will be historic.

“It will be the first time ever a woman has been elected in this Senate district. We also have the potential, if we win, to be the only Republican elected out of Travis County,” Buckingham said.

With intense redistricting in Texas there are only a few competitive districts and SD 24 is one of them.

From the western suburbs of Austin to small town Llano with a population of just more than 3,000, the Democrat has hopes. Jennie Lou Leeder has lived here all her life and voted straight Democrat, including for herself. She hopes a landslide, putting Hillary Clinton into the White House on a national level, can also help her locally.

“I believe that I can work across the aisle and work on good, equitable solutions,” said Leeder.

While she says state money should not leave state schools, she says she’s a pro-2nd amendment rural democrat who is focused on building up life in the country.

“It’s not what’s good for one party or the other and I think that’s gotten lost in Austin. That’s one of the reasons why I’m running,” said Leeder.

Buckingham beat five other candidates in the GOP primary. Leeder was the only one who ran.

According to the Texas Ethics Commission, in her last report Dawn Buckingham had raised nearly $200,000. Jennie Lou Leeder had only raised around $10,000.

Editor’s Note: Original story indicated that SD 24 would have its first GOP senator, that is not the case.

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