Battleground 2020Elections 2020Statewide NewsBattleground 2020: Jonathan Stickland’s Vacant House Seat to be Defining Race

As Texas Democrats focus on control of the Texas State House, this Tarrant County district will be key for both parties going into the 2020 election.
September 17, 2019

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Texas House District 92 is up for grabs in 2020 and several candidates are lining up on both sides to make a bid for a seat that is likely to play a critical role over control of the Texas State House.   

Democrats have targeted it as one of five “flippable” house districts in Tarrant County. And Tarrant County is listed as one of ten counties nationwide that will help determine the next presidential election.

The district consists primarily of Hurst, Euless, and Bedford, but also parts of Arlington and Fort Worth. 

The seat has been held by Representative Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) since 2012, but he has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2020. 

On the Republican side, Jeff Cason and Jim Griffin have announced their intention to seek the nomination. For the Democrats, Steve Riddell and Jeff Whitmire are candidates. Brody Mulligan has filed with the Texas Ethics Commission, but has not announced his candidacy in a particular primary.

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Jeff Cason, who ran for the Republican nomination once before in 2010, entered the race early in the summer and hopes to help keep the district in GOP hands.

“I’ll be retired and unencumbered and able to devote 100 percent of my effort to serving the district and people of it,” Cason told The Texan.  He also believes his experience in corporate America has equipped him to work with people while still maintaining his conservative values.

Cason has lived in Bedford for 35 years and served on the Bedford city council from 2006-2009. 

Cason has been endorsed by Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn and State Representative Bill Zedler (R-Arlington). As of his July report, Cason had raised about $8,600 in contributions.

Cason’s website lists issues such as ending Robin Hood, protecting the lives of the unborn, enforcing immigration laws, moving away from property taxes, reducing state spending, and defending the Second Amendment as his priorities. 

“I want to bring more accountability and transparency to everything in Austin,” Cason said.  

Bedford Mayor Jim Griffin announced both his intention to run for the Republican nomination in House District 92 and his resignation as mayor on September 4. He will remain mayor until a special election is held in November. 

At the most recent Bedford city council meeting, at which the city council voted to increase the property tax rate, Griffin was notably absent. 

Griffin was unable to be reached for comment before publication despite several attempts.

Griffin has served as Bedford’s mayor since 2012. He served on the city council prior to that. 

“I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished as mayor, but so many of our issues in DFW need to be solved at the state level. I’m running to cut property taxes, protect life, defend the Second Amendment, support our schools, and protect the local control that’s made us great,” he told the Fort Worth Business Press

Griffin has served across the community with 6Stones ministry, HEB ISD Education Foundation, HEB Chamber of Commerce, and NE Leadership Foundation. 

Steve Riddell, who ran as a Democrat in HD92 in 2018 and received over 47 percent of the votes cast in the general election, is positioning himself for another run. He has lived in Bedford for 10 years and works for a large internet company in Dallas, according to his website.

Riddell declined an interview with The Texan

Riddell listed the Texas AFL-CIO and Sierra Club as supporters on his campaign site. His website lists “investing” in renewable energy, proposing a guest worker program, and making education the “number one priority in our state’s budget”  while opposing school vouchers as issues he cares about. 

It does not speak specifically to taxes, spending, pro-life issues, or health care. 

Riddell’s latest filing with the Texas Ethics Commission showed that he had approximately $20,000 in total contributions as of July 2019.

Jeff Whitfield, a partner at the Kelly Hart law firm in Fort Worth and resident of Arlington, has decided to run for the Democratic nomination as well. According to his website, he grew up in the Mid-Cities, graduated from Haltom High School, and attended the Air Force Academy. He was also a Fulbright Scholar. 

Whitfield has never held political office. He currently serves on the board of directors of the United Way of Tarrant County. 

In an apparent nod to Medicaid expansion, Whitfield wants to see the state accept “billions of dollars from the federal government to expand health care coverage.” He lists “investing” in infrastructure and transportation as part of his economic platform and education funding on his website as issues of concern.  

None of the issue statements include specific plans. 

In 2018, Rep. Stickland won reelection by a mere 1,400 votes with less than 50 percent of the total vote during the so-called “Beto wave.” Democrats are hoping to build on those results as Republicans hope a presidential election cycle will bolster their performance in the district and across the state.

9/19 Update: The AFL-CIO reached out to The Texan and said that they have not currently issued 2020 endorsements for this race or any other races. However, Mr. Riddell’s campaign website, which was active on the day this article was published, still lists the Texas AFL-CIO as a supporter.

Because Mr. Riddell declined to speak with The Texan, it is unclear as to why there is a discrepancy.

9/20 Update: Mr. Riddell has now removed his AFL-CIO endorsement and all endorsements from his campaign website.


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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a regional reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.