Patrick has made endorsements of Republican candidates in the two open seats, Senate District (SD) 12 and SD 24, as well as in SD 10, which is currently held by a Democrat but poised to change hands under the proposed map.
His endorsements ahead of the primary campaign season kicking into full gear is a different approach than he took in the most recent special Senate election, where he opted against endorsing either of the Republican candidates.
Currently located completely in Tarrant County, proposed changes to the state Senate map would pull in a sizable population of voters from rural counties including Johnson, Palo Pinto, Stephens, Shackelford, Callahan, Brown, and almost half of Parker County.
Attorney Warren Norred, who had challenged some of Gov. Greg Abbott’s COVID-19 lockdown policies, launched a campaign for the seat earlier this year.
After the proposed Senate map had been released, Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) announced that he would run for the district if the new lines were set in stone.
Before the clock had time to strike another hour, Patrick endorsed him.
“I have known and worked with Chairman Phil King of the Texas House for 14 years,” said Patrick in a statement. “His lengthy legislative experience, his background in law enforcement, and his strong leadership skills are what we need in the Texas Senate. Therefore, I am giving my full endorsement to conservative Rep. Phil King for the Texas Senate District 10.”
A day later, King also picked up the endorsement of the influential Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC, which is known for contributing big figures to campaigns in the state.
Even still, a rigorous primary between King, Norred, and other Republicans could lie ahead.
“I know Phil King and welcome him to the race. He’s a nice guy and I worked with him years ago,” Norred told The Texan. “My public statements and lawsuits concerning the state’s COVID overreach demonstrate that I’m unlikely to just accept what I’m told, while Phil’s lethargic silence over the last two years tells the elites that Phil is unlikely to act independently of the party elites.”
“But as a Texas Senator, I hope to be a blend of Senators Bettencourt and Hall, and I can’t imagine any Texas conservative finding that objectionable,” said Norred.
Some elected Republicans in the region are reportedly also pushing for Rep. David Cook (R-Mansfield) to run for the seat, including Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn and Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-TX-06).
Unlike Norred and Cook — who both live within the current boundaries of the district — King’s official place on the ballot is dependent upon the final maps used in the upcoming election.
Though the possibility of senators drawing King out of the new district would come as a surprise while Patrick presides over the chamber, the boundaries of SD 10 have been the focal point of partisan controversy with the proposed map.
Sen. Beverly Powell (D-Burleson), the incumbent of the district, has been particularly irked. She has argued that the changes to the boundaries of her district are unnecessary, as the current lines already place SD 10 close to the ideal population and the proposal dilutes the population of minority voters in the district.
Defending the plan, Senate Redistricting Committee Chair Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) counters that the new lines are needed to address the shifting population in the rest of the DFW area and that she has drawn the new map “blind to race.”
The proposed plan would shift the partisan leaning of the district so that Republicans during the 2018 and 2020 elections would have carried the district with an average of 59 percent of the vote instead of the 49 percent they had received.
While Senate Republicans appear to be charging full steam ahead with the proposed plan, if approved by the legislature, the maps will inevitably be challenged by Powell in state or federal courts.
The legislative changes to SD 10 in 2011 sparked similar controversy and were ultimately rejected by a federal court that drew different lines.
To the north of Tarrant County, the race to replace retiring Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) in SD 12 has been much less dramatic.
Rep. Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) launched a campaign for the district earlier this year, though Patrick waited until Wednesday to give his endorsement.
“In the race for Senate District 12, I believe Tan Parker is the very best candidate to serve the District and the State,” said Patrick. “Since my first Session as a freshman in the Texas Senate, I found Tan Parker to be a great partner when we came together to start the TCCRI Clements Legislative Study Program.”
“Throughout the years we have worked together to advance the quality conservative legislation that Texans expect from us. I am convinced Tan Parker will be an excellent addition to the Texas Senate. He has my unqualified endorsement.”
The proposed map in the Senate would keep a large portion of Denton County in SD 12, while trading out part of Tarrant County for Wise County and a sliver of Dallas County.
Notably, one other candidate with a campaign account indicating he’s from Dallas, Chris Russell, has also launched a campaign for the district as a “constitutional conservative.”
Currently covering parts of the Hill Country and counties in central Texas, the proposed lines for SD 24 were drawn such that they would scoop up the town of Pleasanton where former state Sen. Pete Flores lives.
Shortly after Huffman released the first draft of her proposed map, Flores announced that he would be campaigning for the seat.
Patrick was quick to endorse him the next day.
“Pete Flores made a difference in the Texas Senate. He instantly earned the trust and admiration of his fellow members. A unique blend of common sense and hard work makes him highly effective. He’s a dependable conservative and always ready for any tough assignment,” said Patrick.
“Pete’s a friend and will be a tremendous Senator for District 24. I need Pete Flores back in the Texas Senate to continue to advance our conservative agenda for Texas. He has my full and complete endorsement.”
The incumbent in SD 24, Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway), announced earlier this year that she would run to be Texas’ land commissioner instead of seeking reelection.
Former Austin City Council member Ellen Troxclair, a Republican who lives in Travis County like Buckingham, launched a campaign bid to succeed her this summer.
To make matters complicated for her campaign, though, the proposed map would not only add Flores’ hometown to SD 24; it would also yield its section of Travis County to Sen. Donna Campbell’s (R-New Braunfels) district.
However, Troxclair has continued to campaign in the rest of the district, even touting an endorsement from Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX-25).
“While the redistricting process continues to unfold and remains uncertain, my passion for fighting for our common-sense conservative values has not diminished,” Troxclair told The Texan. “I stand ready to do my part to keep Texas red.”
Update: This article was updated to include a statement from Warren Norred.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.