for Texas House
In 2014, there was a 5-way Republican Primary to fill a vacancy in the Texas House left by the retirement of long-time Representative Harvey Hilderbran. The Kerrville-based district included 12 counties and 15,000-square miles stretching from Llano, west of Austin, south to the suburbs of San Antonio, and all the way out into the rural counties of West Texas. Conventional wisdom favored the Kerrville-based candidate, County Attorney Rob Henneke, where nearly 40% of Republican Primary voters resided.
KC Strategies was retained by Andrew Murr, the Kimble County Judge (Junction), and the grandson of former Governor Coke Stevenson. Stevenson was also the man who had a U.S. Senate seat stolen from him in 1948 by Lyndon Johnson and the mysterious "Ballot Box 13" from Jim Wells County which went 198-2 for Johnson, with many voters casting their ballots in alphabetical order.
In spite of Murr's pedigree, few political observers believed a candidate from one of the district's smallest counties had a chance against Henneke. In fact, other consultants refused to meet with him due to the fact that they believed he had no chance of winning coming from such a small county. KC Strategies, however, doesn't believe in one-size-fits-all approaches and recognized the unique qualities and strengths of a Murr candidacy. So while the other candidates in the race focused all of their firepower on one or two counties, Murr ran a complete 12-county campaign with a strong grassroots effort and engaged voters in the most remote parts of the district. This was vital to increasing his vote share in the smaller counties which helped offset the competition in Kerr, Llano and Medina counties.
Although our internal tracking was nearly identical to the election night results, most were shocked when Murr received 41.29% of the vote in the Republican primary. It was not enough, however, to avoid a runoff with Henneke who garnered 28.85% of the vote and was well within striking distance.
Henneke immediately went on the offensive in the runoff, accusing Murr of raising taxes and being a closet liberal. He was aided along the way with tens of thousands of out-of-district dollars from special interest groups and lobbyists.
Rather than defending against each individual attack and allowing Henneke to dictate the terms of the runoff debate, we took a different approach and focused instead on the character and integrity of the candidates. This played especially well in Kerrville who had just gone through a series of nasty campaigns filled with personal attacks. The voters were fed up and looking for someone who would rise above petty name calling and present a positive message for the future.
Through direct mail, phone calls and door-to-door campaigning, Murr was able to offer a nostalgic message, playing off his deep Texas roots and family history, while at the same time presenting a series of specific legislative initiatives that appealed to the GOP electorate. He was the alternative to a run-of-the-mill candidate who was complacent and did very little to excite his hometown base or step outside the bounds of traditional campaign advertising.
Murr crushed Henneke in the runoff 60.61% to 39.39%, including a decisive 17-point victory in Kerr County. He also received an astounding 93% of the vote in his home county of Kimble. Below is a sampling of the direct mail pieces that KC Strategies produced on behalf of Andrew Murr in the primary and the runoff.