State

Runoff Election Heats Up Between Shelley Luther and Drew Springer for SD 30

The last major Texas legislative race of the year is underway in North Texas with the runoff election between Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther and state Rep. Drew Springer (R-Muenster).

Financial reports filed for the Senate District (SD) 30 race on Friday show that Springer leads in terms of fundraising. 

For the period covering from September 20 through December 9, Springer outraised Luther by $1.1 million to $600,000.

Springer’s contributions include receipts listed on previous reports that he was required to file before the November general election for his reelection bid to the Texas House of Representatives.

But $800,000 of Springer’s total was given since late October.

During the period, Springer has also outspent Luther by $1.2 million to $900,000.

Major contributions to Springer include $310,000 from the Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC, a $100,000 self-loan, $50,000 from the Texas Farm Bureau AGFUND, and $50,000 from the Texas Leads PAC.

Texas Leads was founded by House Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) last year to help support GOP House members, though the donation to Springer was given after the general election.

Springer also received $20,000 from the Chickasaw Nation, which is located in southern Oklahoma and north of SD 30.

Notably, Springer did not list any campaign contributions from Governor Greg Abbott, who endorsed Springer at the beginning of December. 

Other Texas politicians did donate to his campaign, though, including $10,000 from Rep. James Frank (R-Wichita Falls) and smaller donations from Reps. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), Drew Darby (R-San Angelo), Dan Huberty (R-Houston), Ed Thompson (R-Pearland), Jared Patterson (R-Frisco), and Geanie Morrison (R-Victoria).

The list of large donations to Luther’s campaign was much smaller, made up of primarily a $500,000 donation from CrownQuest CEO Tim Dunn.

The conservative megadonor previously loaned Luther’s campaign $1 million.

A PAC that Dunn is the primary contributor to and is associated with Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford), Defend Texas Liberty PAC, also contributed $9,000 to Luther’s campaign and is listed as providing an additional $26,000 of in-kind contributions.

The finance reports filed on Friday are the last reports before the runoff election next week and are the latest since the pre-election filing in September.

Even before the open election on September 30, where Luther and Springer each received 32 percent of the vote, the two candidates were clashing for the top spot.

Attacks have been flung back and forth between Luther and Springer, with each questioning the other’s Republican credentials.

Lately, those attacks have been renewed and new ones have been made.

Most recently, Springer has run a television advertisement attacking Luther as “a fake conservative” and touting his endorsements from Abbott and the National Rifle Association.

Advertisements from Luther released earlier this week accused Springer of authoring a bill that would help the Chinese government.

“The Chinese Communist Party is building a massive database on American citizens, and Drew Springer tried to help them,” one video states.

The attack refers to a bill Springer filed in the last legislative session, House Bill 4448, which would have broadened the ability for drones to capture images of private property under Texas code.

Springer’s legislation was supported by Amazon and DJI, a Chinese-based drone manufacturing company, and it received little opposition until U.S. House Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX-05) and Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington) expressed concerns.

In a letter to the state legislature, Gooden expressed national security concerns about the bill because of the support from DJI.

Tinderholt ultimately swayed enough lawmakers to oppose the bill and kill it.

Luther’s second video to highlight Springer’s bill showed her blasting a drone out of the sky with a shotgun.

Springer responded to the accusations, saying, “The purpose of the bill was essentially to clean up the statutes regulating the use of drones in Texas.”

“The legislation has no mention of China and in no way empowers them to spy on people,” claimed Springer.

In his response to the accusation of supporting China, Springer referenced the attacks made by former Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) during the 2012 Senate Republican primary election.

Dewhurst referred to Cruz as “Red Ted” and insinuated that his opponent was a sympathizer to Chinese communists.

Springer included a photo of himself with Cruz, though the senator has not endorsed anyone in the special election.

Luther’s campaign also sent out a mail advertisement with Cruz’s image centered on it, as well as marketing material with images of two other notable political figures who have not weighed in on the race, President Trump and Texas GOP Chairman Allen West.

West pushed back against Luther’s campaign and released a statement saying that they had sent her a “cease and desist letter.”

“This deliberate attempt to misrepresent the Party’s stance, as well as my own, is a tactic not supported by the RPT and beneath those looking to serve in the Republican Party of Texas,” said West.

He added, “Voters in Senate District 30 will decide who will represent them in the Texas Senate. I wish both Drew Springer and Shelly Luther luck in their election and look forward to working with the next State Senator for SD 30 this coming session to ensure we continue to Keep Texas Red.”

But West is not the only one to send a letter critical of one of the candidates in the SD 30 race.

Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford), who has attacked Springer for opposition to constitutional carry legislation in past sessions, sent a letter to the chairman of the General Investigating Committee requesting an investigation into Springer for a text message he sent to former New Hope Mayor Angel Hamm rescinding an offer for assistance he previously offered her.

In the text, which was recently made public, Springer wrote, “It’s disappointing that I’m trying to help New Hope but you seem to be pushing someone else for the Senate seat. Until Pat [Fallon] leaves in January maybe this is best for his staff to address the PUC issue.”

Hamm replied, “Yeah sorry about that. I had given my endorsement before you and I even met.”

Stickland claims that the text from Springer “appears to violate the broad language of the Texas Constitution.”

The city of New Hope is outside of Springer’s current House District but is within the boundaries of SD 30.

How the attacks between the two candidates have fared among voters in the North Texas seat will be determined in a week on Saturday, December 19.

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