As the March 3 primary approaches, the candidates in Texas House District 92 are positioning for votes. Targeted by Democrats as one of five winnable house districts in Tarrant County, 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 announced last year that he would not be seeking re-election in 2020.
Stickland was one of the most prominent conservatives in the Texas House and a favorite of many grassroots conservatives. He was known for sparring with Republican leadership and occasionally staking out the lone dissenting position on legislation.
Republican candidates include Jeff Cason, Jim Griffin, and Taylor Gillig. Democrats are Jeff Whitfield and Steve Riddell. Chris Hibbard has declared his candidacy as a Libertarian.
The latest campaign finance reports covering the period from July to December show that Democratic candidate Whitfield has raised the most money at about $119,000. Whitfield is an attorney in Fort Worth who grew up in the mid-cities and was a legislative aide to State Senator John Whitmire (D-Houston).
His Democratic opponent, Riddell, has raised about $32,000 in contributions. Riddell, a Bedford resident who works for a large technology company in Dallas, ran for the seat as a Democrat in 2018 and garnered 47 percent of the vote.
For Republicans, Cason, a long-time Bedford resident and former city councilman who also ran for the seat in 2010, reported contributions of about $56,000.
Griffin, former mayor of Bedford, reported about $30,000 in contributions, but Gillig, a veteran and small business owner who was also an aide to Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), only reported raising $2,780 in contributions.
Often sought after by candidates, endorsements can sometimes play a key role in political campaigns and several have been given in this race.
The Texas AFL-CIO has endorsed both Whitfield and Riddell in the race.
For Republicans, Cason has garnered support from a breadth of conservative grassroots organizations, including Texas Right to Life, Texas Values Action, Young Conservatives of Texas, and Texas Home School Coalition.
The candidates for House District 92 participated in a public education forum on Wednesday sponsored by Raise Your Hand Texas and Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District Council of PTAs.
Riddell and Whitfield both declared their opposition to school vouchers. Riddell praised the pre-k funding from the state that was included in House Bill 3 last legislative session. Whitfield also staked a position that background checks on private sales of guns and red flag laws were important measures to improve school safety.
At the same public education forum, Griffin touted his record of community service, particularly with the HEB ISD Education Foundation. He also said regarding vouchers that he wouldn’t support any legislation that weakens public education.
Gillig was more open to educational options, but said that taxpayer funds should not be given to private entities without accountability. He also emphasized his desire to see the K-12 education system align more with the needs of students to take up trades and other skilled careers.
Cason did not attend the forum, but his website indicates his support for parental choice in education and also reducing unfunded mandates on local school districts.
The primary election will be held on March 3, but early voting begins February 18.
Kim Roberts is a 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.