The candidates have been stating their cases for months and now the District 81 state representative’s race between incumbent Rep. Brooks Landgraf and challenger Casey Gray and the District 31 state senate contest among Kevin Sparks, Stormy Bradley, Tim Reid and Jesse Quackenbush Jr. are going to the voters.
There are no Democrats in either race and if no one gets 50.01 percent in the senate primary, the issue will go to a May 24 runoff. The new senator will succeed the retiring Sen. Kel Seliger of Amarillo.
Early voting runs Monday through Feb. 25 in the elections office of the county administration building at 1010 E. Eighth St., Kellus Turner Community Center, the Elegante Hotel, the Globe Theater of the Great Southwest and Salinas Community Building.
Landgraf, chairman of the House Environmental Regulation Committee in Austin, has been emphasizing the $2.9 million that legislators appropriated to bolster U.S.-Mexico border security last year and his determination to help end the state’s reliance on the Robin Hood public school funding system and standardized testing in the schools when the legislature meets again next January. He is seeking a fifth two-year term.
Last year’s statewide redistricting deleted Andrews County and added Loving County to the 81st District, which also includes Ector, Winkler and Ward counties, although the winner will represent Andrews through the rest of 2022.
Gray, a military veteran who declined an in-person interview or a phone interview with the Odessa American, ran for Congress two years ago in the race that saw Congressman August Pfluger of San Angelo win the GOP nomination without a runoff in a field of 10 candidates.
Awaiting an April court date in Walford County, Wis., Gray is accused of violating a restraining order twice and jumping bail on the two cases that were filed as a result of those alleged violations, which online records say are related to a child custody dispute.
Court records also indicate that a Jan. 6 status hearing was held on the violate/harassment restraining order against Gray that was originally filed in February 2018. Gray entered a not guilty plea in May of 2018.
Landgraf has picked up a number of endorsements including that of Gov. Greg Abbott and Ector County Sheriff Mike Griffis.
Sparks is a Midland oilman whose fundraising and region-wide visibility have far outpaced Bradley’s, Reid’s and Quackenbush’s. Sparks is campaigning on promoting conservative values and the political unification of Odessa and Midland, among other issues.
Running a distant second to Sparks in fundraising but ahead of Reid and Quackenbush, Bradley is a Big Spring businesswoman and Coahoma School Board member who strongly disapproves of the COVID-related restrictions on businesses that Gov. Greg Abbott imposed last year. Bradley also criticizes the Texas Legislature, saying its Republican majority “is a lot of talkers and not a lot of doers.”
Reid is a retired Amarillo FBI agent who taught at a preparatory school till taking a leave of absence to campaign. His main issues are enhancing border security and strengthening local control of schools.
Quackenbush is an Amarillo attorney who specializes in personal injury and criminal defense. He advocates protecting the Second Amendment and criminalizing the teaching of Critical Race Theory.
Last year’s redistricting took four Panhandle counties out of the 31st District and added 12 in the Permian Basin, increasing the optimism of Republicans on the south end that the region will elect a candidate of its own to represent the huge 45-county district.