Texas Senate runoff zooms in on experience, independence, and a lawsuit down the home stretch


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Texas Senate runoff zooms in on experience, independence, and a lawsuit down the home stretch

Brent Hagenbuch has nearly run the table will major endorsement. Jace Yarbrough argues he’s more independent.

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Two candidates are aiming to represent conservative-leaning Texas Senate District 30, sprawling across 11 counties northwest of Denton.

Brent Hagenbuch leads in campaign dollars and major endorsements, including from former President Trump. Jace Yarbrough argues he’s more conservative and independent and is continuing a lawsuit to knock Hagenbuch off the ballot over residency questions.

The lawsuit is ongoing but the judge has allowed Hagenbuch to continue to run for the seat. The two have launched more criticism at each other as the race heads down the home stretch toward the May 28 runoff election. Early voting begins May 20.

Trump, Gov. Greg Abbott, former Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, outgoing State Sen. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, and nine other state senators have endorsed Hagenbuch.

Former Texas GOP Chair Lt. Col. Allen West and former State Rep. Matt Schaefer have endorsed Yarbrough along with several grassroots groups like the True Texas Project and Texas Right to Life.

In the March primary Hagenbuch won 36.4% of the vote; Yarbrough won 33.9% in a four-person race. The winner of the May runoff will likely take the seat in November because it’s drawn by lawmakers to favor Republicans. The two Democratic candidates are in a runoff in May as well but are longshots in November.

Little separates the candidates on policy. Both candidates say their number one priority is border security funding and a more strict immigration policy. Both are supporters of Abbott’s effort to allow families to use public school money on private school tuition and homeschools. Both said lowering the property tax burden and water rights and infrastructure are other top priorities.

Hagenbuch served in the Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps and runs a Denton-based trucking company. Yarbrough is a lawyer who works for conservative causes and serves in the Air Force Reserves.

They say their biggest differences are outside of policy.

“If we don’t get deep conservative representation from Senate District 30, it’s not going to come from anywhere else in the state,” said Yarbrough, “And based simply on our past records, there’s no question that I am the person that has the conviction, the competence to go down and fight for the values of the people of our district.”

Hagenbuch said voters should question Yarbrough’s character because he ran counter to Air Force commands by refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine and criticized the military over “cancel culture” while wearing the uniform.

“If you don’t wear the uniform, that’s free speech but they’ve never been OK with people in the uniform disparaging that service,” said Hagenbuch.

Hagenbuch was formerly the Denton County GOP chair. Several of his former party members are backing Yarbrough because of the ongoing residency lawsuit.


Hagenbuch has been sued in several courts by Yarbrough and a former candidate Dr. Carrie de Moor, who lost in the March primary. An appeals court dismissed Yarbrough’s case. de Moor’s challenge has not altered the race. Yarbrough filed to join de Moor’s according to The Dallas Morning News. Hagenbuch has compared the efforts to failed legal efforts trying to remove former President Trump from the ballot in Maine and Colorado. Trump is backing Hagenbuch.

Hagenbuch has a home outside of the district where he registered to vote in the past. When filing to run for Senate District 30 he put the address of the office building housing his trucking company. In an interview with NBC 5 he said an issue came up with the certificate of occupancy for that building so he’s renting an apartment across the street. He eventually wants to live in an apartment inside the office building, Hagenbuch said.

“That’s been argued over and over again that my opponent keeps bringing it. He’s a trial lawyer. He’s bringing it back to court. He’s lost every time and my residency is being reaffirmed,” said Hagenbuch, “I think it’s, he’s kind of beaten a dead horse at this point. It’s really just a campaign tactic at this point.”

“He continues to insist that no, in fact, I have lived in basically a broom closet in a commercial office complex that my business rents since early October even though I have a million dollar lakefront property where I have lived and voted,” said Yarbrough.

On the court system allowing Hagenbuch to run while the lawsuit is pending, Yarbough told NBC 5, “It’s not over.”

“Everywhere I go, the voters of Senate District 30 are frustrated. They’re frustrated with ‘The rules for thee, but not for me’ kind of politics that plagues Washington, D.C. and Austin,” said Yarbrough.


Hagenbuch tells NBC 5 that voters should choose him over Yarbrough because of his experience, saying they “have a hiring decision to make essentially.”

“I’m a businessman, started the business here, this trucking company, 18 years ago. By the grace of God, it’s become one of the largest trucking companies in the grocery industry. We have 900 total employees,” said Hagenbuch, “My opponent, he’s a trial lawyer. I don’t necessarily think we need more trial lawyers down in Austin. He’s only been one for six years, but he’s kind of had a little trouble keeping a job.”

Yarbrough argues he is more faithful to his conservative values and would be an independent voice in Austin.

“One of the issues my opponent has is that he’s basically just looking to be told what to do,” said Yarbrough, “He basically says whatever he thinks the audience in front of him wants to hear.”


The Texas Senate was the scene of a historic impeachment trial of Attorney General Ken Paxton. The House tried to remove him from office over corruption and bribery accusations. The Senate voted to acquit him with most Republican senators criticizing the House process as rushed.

Paxton has not endorsed either of the candidates in the runoff. He backed Dr. de Moor in the March primary when she filed to run against the outgoing senator, Drew Springer.

Yarbrough was the attorney for Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, the attorney general’s wife, during the impeachment trial. She was not allowed to vote in the trial because of the conflict of interest. When asked how he would have voted in the trial he told NBC 5 he would have joined the six Republican senators to dismiss the articles at the beginning of the trial, ending the case before evidence was presented.

“To say, this is egregious,” he said.

To the same question, Hagenbuch told NBC 5 he was focused on his role as Denton County GOP chair and running his business and he didn’t get into the details of the trial. He said he agreed with the speech Lt. Gov. Patrick gave at the end, saying, “There’s some real lessons learned.” He was OK with how the trial ended in Paxton’s acquittal.

“I think that we followed the process we were supposed to and he was acquitted. I think that’s the important thing to say. So we need to move forward now,” said Hagenbuch.

Outgoing Senator Drew Springer voted to acquit Paxton but after Paxton in a separate court case did not contest very similar allegations, told NBC 5’s Lone Star Politics he would have voted to convict.


Both candidates said they’d vote for Abbott’s priority of allowing families to use public school dollars for private school tuition and home schools. Many rural public school districts worry the program will drain needed funds. Senate District 30 has many rural school districts.

Earlier in the campaign, Yarbrough told the Olney Enterprise he’d be open to exempting the well-performing rural school districts from the program. When NBC 5 asked him, he said he supports every student in Texas having the choice to join the program.

“I’m absolutely dedicated to giving every Texas parent who wants a way out of our ISDs, why? Because many of our ISDs are posing affirmative harm to children. And I don’t mean that simply intellectually or socially or emotionally, I mean even physically,” said Yarbrough.

“If every school district in Texas was like some of the school districts we have here, it probably wouldn’t be an issue. I came from a rural town, a rural school that … you know, everybody’s at Friday Night Football. The town are involved around the school. So, but I think the way the plans put together, our Texas rural schools will be fine. And now I’ll be a big supporter,” said Hagenbuch.