State Rep. Dan Flynn has represented House District 2 – composed of Hopkins, Hunt and Van Zandt counties – in the Texas Legislature since 2003. It’s a solidly Republican district and whoever gets the GOP nomination will be the favorite to join other lawmakers when the 2021 session begins next January.
For the third consecutive campaign, Royse City financial services professional Bryan Slaton is challenging Flynn for the Republican nomination. Slaton has the endorsement support of Empower Texans, the activist organization with an associated PAC that’s known for funding primary challengers to unseat Republican incumbents the organization deems insufficiently conservative.
Flynn, of Van, a former banker turned rancher, rated as one of the most conservative members of the Legislature in his earlier terms. In recent years, Flynn has continued to champion conservative causes such as gun-ownership rights and opposition to abortion. But as the Republican Party shifted toward the right, Flynn has found himself more in the center of the ideological culture of today’s Texas GOP. Slaton’s campaign has presented Flynn as a mainstream Republican along the lines of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has endorsed Flynn.
In contrast, Republican State Sen. Bob Hall, whose Senate District 2 includes all of House District 2, has endorsed Slaton. Hall, a Van Zandt County tea party activist, unseated longtime incumbent Bob Deuell in the 2014 Republican primary. That campaign featured a similar dynamic, a veteran conservative lawmaker facing a bid from a challenger questioning the incumbent’s conservative credentials.
Slaton’s 2020 campaign differs from his previous two efforts in that this time, Slaton has forced a runoff election. In the March primary, Flynn fell short of the simple majority necessary to ensure his place on November ballots. Instead, Flynn finished with 44.5 percent of votes cast – good enough for first, but not enough to prevent a runoff. Slaton received 35.2 percent of the vote. Edom veterinarian and tea party activist Doc Collins, another candidate challenging Flynn from the right, got 20.3 percent.
Party primary runoffs had been scheduled for May 28, but concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic pushed the date to next Tuesday, July 14.