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'We Have A Lot Of Healing To Do' — John Austin Defeats Incumbent Bexar County GOP Chair

Cynthia Brehm, the incumbent Bexar County GOP chair, faced defeat in the Runoff Primary Election. She gathered about 33% of Republican votes by early Wednesday morning. She was the underdog against challenger John Austin, who bested her on Super Tuesday by 100 votes. In the runoff, he received more than 10,000 votes more than Brehm.

Brehm had a tumultuous history as GOP county chair. Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas GOP state chair, James Dickey, both called for her to resign after she posted a conspiracy theory about George Floyd’s death. She also claimed COVID-19 was “promulgated by the Democrats to undo all the good that President Trump has done for our country,” and then encouraged people to “take off your masks.”

Her term has been bookended by controversy. Shortly after she took office, news broke of her husband's history of sexual abuse.

| FULL RESULTS: Bexar County 2020 Runoff Election |

In a brief election-night interview with Texas Public Radio, John Austin didn’t address Brehm’s problematic past. He said he hopes to work with her and her supporters. 

“We have a lot of healing to do,” he said. “First, of course, I'll reach out to Cynthia and her supporters. My whole campaign has been about unity and bringing everybody together. I really hope and expect her people to still be with us because we're all one team, when it's all said and done.”

Austin also said the county party, under Cynthia Brehm, didn’t give local candidates enough support in 2018, when a blue wave swept several local Republican judges out of office.

“I ran because I saw that the local party didn't help the candidates out through the last election cycle in 2018,” he said. “And I knew that it's important for the party to be involved.”

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statement on Austin’s victory before any election day results even came in, when Austin led Brehm by more than 10,000 early and absentee votes alone. 

"Congratulations to John Austin on being elected Chairman of the Republican Party of Bexar County," the press release said. "John will lead the Bexar County GOP with integrity, principled leadership, and a commitment to conservative values.”

Cyntha Brehm has declined previous requests for comment, and did not return texts or phone calls on election night. 

Dominic Anthony Walsh can be reached at Dominic@tpr.org and on Twitter at @_DominicAnthony.

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