Incumbent John Kuempel faced off against Alan Schoolcraft and Greg Switzer in Tuesday’s Republican primary, with school choice being one of the most controversial topics in determining who will represent Texas House District 44.

Kuempel was first elected in 2010 and is currently serving his seventh term as the representative for HD 44, which includes Gonzales and Guadalupe County.

The representative has previously expressed disapproval of school choice, highlighted by his vote last year in favor of an amendment to strip education saving accounts from an education bill under consideration.

Kuempel has said that his opposition to school choice is due to the lack of accountability in the process, telling The Gonzales Inquirer that the “money can go anywhere.”

“They can go to illegal aliens, they can go to schools teaching Sharia law — it can go anywhere, and there has to be no sign of that student’s academic achievement. Once that money leaves, you’ll never see it again. But I am here to protect our rural schools,” he said.

Rather than focusing on the implementation of school choice, Kuempel states on his campaign website that public schools should be strengthened and improved.

“An adamant supporter of our local schools, John fights to ensure our parents and teachers have every resource they need to prepare our kids for college and the workforce,” states the website.

In contrast to the beliefs expressed by Kuempel, each of his challengers has voiced their support for school choice in the Lone Star State.

Switzer has been vocal about his acceptance of school choice, explaining that he would support any policies his district favors.

“I’m for the school choice as long as you’re for school choice. My personal opinion, I believe, doesn’t really matter. This is a republic form of government. The position that I’m running for as a representative is to represent your voice — your voice. So whatever it is that you’ve decided that you want is what I will go to Austin to represent and what I will advocate for, and that is the vote I will cast,” he told the Inquirer.

Switzer also claims on his campaign website that he believes parents are responsible for guiding their children, writing, “Parents have a God-given, and natural Right to make decisions for the well-being of their children.”

Compared to the other two candidates vying to represent HD 44, Schoolcraft has been much more vocal about his support for school choice, claiming on his website that he “staunchly believes in empowering families with the freedom to choose the most suitable educational paths for their children.”

“Advocating ardently for school choice policies, he champions quality educational options, ensuring every child receives a tailored education that best fits their needs,” the website adds.

Schoolcraft also spoke with the Inquirer about the potential for school choice to be implemented in Texas, saying that he would “100% wholeheartedly approve of, endorse, push for, advocate for school choice.”

“We had a recent report from TEA that less than half of our children in our public schools are performing at grade level. Yet the same system, year after year after year after year, our only solution is throwing more money at it. School choice is the process of saying your tax dollars will follow your child,” he explained.

“If you are happy with your local schools, great. If you want to put your child in another alternative that fits their needs better, your tax dollars will follow your child to that next school.”

Schoolcraft’s strong opinions on school choice have earned him endorsements from multiple elected officials within the state, including one from Gov. Greg Abbott.

The governor wrote in a social media post on Monday that Schoolcraft will help “secure our border, cut property taxes, and empower Texas parents.”

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has also endorsed Schoolcraft, stating in a press release that “the Texas House needs new leadership and a fresh crop of new members.”

“Alan Schoolcraft will bring a unique blend of true conservative values and institutional knowledge to House District 44,” he wrote.