By Michael Sudhalter
Ken Bryant and Mary Walker don’t expect a contentious Republican primary in State House District 27.
But whomever wins Tuesday’s primary plans on convincing the overwhelming Democratic district that it must move in a conservative direction.
Three-term incumbent Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City) will face three opponents in the Democratic primary – Angelique Bartholomew, Steve Brown and Chris Henderson.
Reynolds, the Democratic House Whip, has won the last three general elections by 67, 69 and 85 percent, respectively.
District 27 has never elected a Republican, so Bryant and Walker – both Missouri City residents – face long odds.
Bryant, an attorney who owns a law practice in Richmond, served one term on the Fort Bend ISD board of trustees and lost to former District 27 Rep. Dora Olivo (D-Rosenberg), 60.8 to 39.2 in the 2006 District 27 General Election.
“District 27 needs a person who will cross the aisle,” Bryant said. “Olivo and Reynolds have not been effective. I will try to persuade people to understand what’s needed for our area.”
A Houston native and lifelong Republican, Bryant considers himself “a fiscal conservative” and believes that Republicans have done a better job of encouraging “personal responsibility” and limiting unnecessary spending.
He said the major issues facing the district include the need for better schools, reducing crime and increasing economic development.
“The (economic development) train may not be there yet, but we have to at least lay the tracks,” Bryant said.
Bryant, who said he knows and gets along with Reynolds personally and acknowledges his popularity in the district, said the incumbent candidate may not be able to accomplish much for the district due to ongoing legal issues.
In November, Reynolds was convicted on five misdemeanor counts of Barratry in Montgomery County and sentenced to the maximum one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
Reynolds has posted bond and is free, pending an appeal of the case. The results of the appeal won’t likely be revealed by the primary election but could be revealed by the general election on Nov. 8.
Walker will be running for office for the first time in 37 years.
In 1979, Walker – then a Democrat – unsuccessfully challenged Republican incumbent Milton Fox in the District 93 (West Houston) election.
Walker, a real estate agent and retired Alief ISD bus driver, said she became more conservative over the years and identifies with the Republican Party.
Walker said that support for law enforcement will be a major part of her campaign. She agrees with Reynolds on his support and participation in passing the Body Camera Bill, which requires law enforcement officers to wear body cameras on their uniforms.
She would also like to see more emphasis on school bus safety. During her time with Alief ISD, she was the elected representative to speak on behalf of 300 bus drivers at school board meetings.
Walker is also a strong proponent of strict drug laws and criticized President Barack Obama for advocating the release of non-violent drug offenders from prison.
“I know Reynolds is popular, but we’ll see what happens between now and the election,” Walker said. “I will try to get law enforcement and realtors to back my campaign.”