Four former rivals endorse Pete Sessions in runoff to replace U.S. Rep. Bill Flores

Former U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions announced his candidacy for the 17th District in October. (Angela Piazza for The Texas Tribune)

Four former opponents are endorsing Pete Sessions now that the ex-Dallas congressman is in the Republican primary runoff to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan.

The four endorsements, first shared Wednesday with The Texas Tribune, most notably include George Hindman, the third-place finisher in the 12-way primary earlier this month. Hindman finished less than a percentage point behind the Flores-backed Renee Swann, while Sessions easily came in first.

In addition to Hindman, Sessions is getting the support of Scott Bland, who finished fifth; Todd Kent, who came in seventh; and Laurie Godfrey McReynolds, who took ninth place.

Hindman, a Pflugerville aerospace engineer, had run as one of the more conservative candidates, and he clashed with Swann in the primary's closing days as he sought to secure a runoff spot. He said in a statement that Republicans in the 17th District "now have two candidates from the more establishment wing of the Republican Party, so we must choose who is best for our community."

"In my opinion, the choice is clear," Hindman said. "Pete Sessions is the only remaining candidate who can unite Republicans from multiple factions in this community. Pete and his supporters spent their time in the primary talking about their campaign, not lying about their opponents."

Bland, a former Secret Service agent and Waco homebuilder, championed issues such as national security and workforce development in his campaign. Sessions, he said in a statement, "represents the best opportunity we have to move forward on these issues."

Among the other former candidates, the sixth-place finisher, Trent Sutton, has already endorsed Swann in the runoff. The Marine veteran has long been critical of Sessions, a Waco native who moved back to run for the seat after a long tenure representing North Texas until his 2018 reelection loss.

Shortly after launching his campaign last year, Sessions was referenced in a criminal indictment against two associates of President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, for alleged campaign finance violations. Sessions, who was not accused of any crimes, has denied any wrongdoing.

"It is clear to me that Central Texas and the Brazos Valley would not be well served by a self-interested career politician who is also in legal jeopardy," Sutton said in a statement Friday.

Sessions touted his campaign’s “tremendous momentum” in unveiling his latest endorsements. His campaign said the four ex-rivals will provide “differing levels of support for the campaign based on their preferences, but all will be actively helping.”