This editorial is part of the Dallas Morning News editorial board’s slate of recommendations for the 2022 primary. Find the full project here.
We strongly recommend Rep. Jeff Leach in the Republican primary for Texas House District 67. During his five terms, Leach has grown into one of Austin’s most active conservatives with consensus-building ability.
Leach, 39, an attorney, has represented the Collin County district since first winning the seat in 2012 and is serving his second term as chair of the House’s judiciary committee. The GOP-led remap has given the district a more red hue, adding the county’s rural northeast and McKinney, and keeping parts of Allen and Plano.
While Leach remains rooted in deeply conservative values, he has embraced bipartisanship. He showed that willingness last year when, after his bill to prohibit schools from requiring face masks gained no traction, he took a shot at compromise with a Democratic colleague on a measure that would have empowered school boards to set mask mandates with an opt-out for parents. Although Leach wound up not backing the proposal, it illustrated a refreshing openness to negotiation.
The Plano Republican also showed his bipartisan side when he proposed that a bill by longtime Democratic Dallas Sen. Royce West be named for West. Now law, the measure makes it easier for property owners to remove racist restrictions from real estate deeds. Further, Leach, co-chair of the Criminal Justice Reform Caucus, sponsored a bill, which died in the Senate, that would have eliminated the “law of parties” allowing the death penalty for co-conspirators who played a role in a murder but did not actually plan for a person to be killed.
Leach has sponsored bills leading to constitutional amendments that voters approved: one in 2019 instituting a state income tax ban and another last year that designated places of worship in Texas as essential and barring them from closure during a disaster, a contentious pandemic topic. Leach also mentioned how he and El Paso Democrat Joe Moody “basically shut down the House for three days one weekend to prove a point” after the Senate wouldn’t take action on criminal justice bills late in the 2021 regular session.
This primary’s other candidate, Julia Schmoker, didn’t attend a meeting with us or respond to an interview request. Issues on her website include border security, election integrity and property tax relief, but she lists no specifics.
Leach, who has a 100% constituent meeting policy, boasts “you won’t find a harder-working state representative than me.” His nine years of work validate that. We see Leach as the obvious choice in the District 67 GOP primary.
The winner will face Democrat Kevin Morris in November.