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Race Is On To Replace Phillips, Laubenberg, Gooden

Texas has waived some requirements for receiving unemployment benefits.
Voters in Delta, Fannin, Grayson, Henderson, Kaufman, and parts of Collin counties will have new representation in the Texas House of Representatives next year.

Whatever happens with the upcoming Republican Party primary elections, one thing is certain: some voters in Northeast Texas will have new representation in Austin for the 2019 session of the Texas Legislature.

That’s because in our part of the state, three current members of the Texas House of Representatives won’t be running for re-election. Incumbent State Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Terrell), State Rep. Larry Phillips (R-Sherman) and State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg (R-Parker) will all be moving on to other things. Whoever replaces those three as the Republican nominee will also face a Democratic opponent on ballots in November.

Phillips represents District 62, which is composed of Delta, Fannin and Grayson counties. After eight terms, Phillips is stepping down. Looking to replace him are Kevin Couch, a former member of the Sherman City Council; Brent Lawson, an electrical engineer from Van Alstyne, and Reggie Smith, a Sherman attorney. The Republican nominee will compete against Sherman Democrat Valerie Hefner, an executive at a medical supply company.

In Collin County, Texas House District 89 is composed of communities on both sides of Lavon Lake, and stretches from Plano to Nevada. Laubenberg, who has also served eight terms in Austin, will not seek re-election. Candy Noble, of Lucas, has served on the State Republican Executive Committee, has announced her intention to run for the open seat. Joining her on GOP ballots will be John Payton of Murphy, who has served as Collin County Justice of the Peace since 1991. Either Payton or Noble will run against Democratic candidate Ray Ash, of Murphy, an attorney and U.S. Army veteran.

Gooden is among several Republicans aiming to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas, to represent the Texas 5th Congressional District. Republicans Keith Bell, Earl Brunner, Ashley McKee and Stuart Spitzer will be competing to replace Gooden, whose Texas House District 4 includes Henderson and Kaufman counties.

Spitzer, a surgeon in Kaufman, once held the District 4 seat, having defeated Gooden in the 2014 Republican primary and won in the following general election. Gooden returned the favor by defeating Spitzer in 2016. McKee is a real estate entrepreneur and attorney from Eustace. Brunner, from Gun Barrel City, is a commercial pilot and U.S. Army veteran. Bell is a rancher in Hiram and serves as president of the Forney school board. Democrat Eston Williams, a Methodist minister from Aley, will face the Republican nominee in November.