Cole, Leach headed for runoff in District 67 race
State House District 67 was held by Jerry Madden for two decades, but a newcomer will occupy the office in January when Madden, who didn't seek re-election, officially retires.
While the winners of many races were determined Tuesday night during the Republican and Democratic primaries, Madden's successor will likely not be determined until after a July 31 runoff between Jon Cole [32 percent] and Jeff Leach [30 percent], neither of whom received the required 50 percent of the vote to avoid a second election. No Democrats are seeking the seat, meaning the winner of the runoff will likely win in November.
"I think this is great since it gives us two more months to spread our conservative message," Cole said. "We are going to keep our grassroots campaign going forward."
Leach said he was happy with the results and looks forward to the runoff.
"We celebrated a great victory tonight with over 30 percent of the vote," Leach wrote on his Facebook page. "I am honored to have received such a significant percentage of the vote in a hotly contested five-way race. Tomorrow we start working toward a victory in the runoff on July 31."
While the runoff is still two months away, both Cole and Leach are already in full campaign mode.
"I think there is a true difference between Jeff and myself," Cole said. "The No. 1 thing is my experience, and the No. 2 thing is my proven record on conservative issues and conservative values. I respect Jeff, but in this race, there is a clear difference."
Leach countered, pointing to endorsements he has received as evidence of his conservative principles.
"Every major conservative group from across the state and Collin County has endorsed me in this race," Leach said. "It is one thing to say you are a true conservative, it is another to have the support of these groups. These groups spent hours researching us and every one of them decided to endorse me."
Running against Cole and Leach were Roger Burns, John Pitchford and Jeran Akers. Burns picked up 22 percent of the vote, while Akers racked up 11 percent and Pitchford received 4 percent. Burns did not return requests for comment after the results were final, but Akers, a former Plano mayor, said while the race didn't turn out the way he wished, he enjoyed campaigning.
"This was one of the most fun races I have had in many ways," Akers said. "It was really fun watching the two youngsters (Leach and Cole) who came out on top. In many ways, it was a lot of fun since it reminded me of many of the previous races I have run."
Akers said he will not be returning to his position as the president and CEO of the Celina Chamber of Commerce, but said he will remain active in Celina, as well as in Plano. He said he plans to continue working for conservative causes in Collin County, as well as spending time with his family and promoting causes dear to his heart, such as organ donation.
Pitchford said he was grateful to have participated in the process and for the support he received from the public. He said he will be actively supporting Jeff Leach in the runoff election.