(CBSDFW.COM) – Early voting began Wednesday in the runoff election for the State Senate District 30 race, which stretches across 14 counties in North Texas.
Candidates Shelley Luther and Drew Springer, both Republicans, said Wednesday that changes need to be made to the governor’s authority during a disaster, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
Luther made national headlines this spring after she was arrested and jailed for opening her Dallas hair salon before the state and county allowed her to.
Gov. Greg Abbott criticized Dallas County Judge Eric Moye at the time for sending her to jail, and he changed his executive order so that people could not be thrown in jail if they didn’t comply with his order.
She said she opposes government mandates. “People are smart enough to know if they want to go out of their house. The only time they should step in is if there’s enough people that are staying in their homes because they can’t work and they need to step in and help these people financially. But other than that, they don’t have the right to tell them to wear masks. They don’t have they don’t have the right to tell businesses to shut down.”
Springer, a sitting state representative in rural North Texas, said Abbott should have called a special session of the legislature to deal with the pandemic — and that he believes the governor should have similar powers as top county officials during a disaster.
“The County Judge has seven days before he has to involve the rest of the Commissioner’s court. We would have a panel of four other folks that would join the Governor, Speaker, Lieutenant Governor, the two chairs to State Affairs (legislative committees), they would have another seven days and another seven days. And at that time, the legislature would be automatically called in for special session,” he said.
Springer and Luther emerged as the top two candidates from a crowded election Sept. 29 featuring five Republicans and one Democrat.
Luther had 115 more votes than Springer.
She is a first-time candidate and said she is running against the establishment. “We need Texans that will stand up for us that will go against the grain if necessary. And we definitely need some transparency in Austin.”
Springer is running on his experience at the Capitol. “I’m the proven conservative, I’m the one who has represented this district the way the district wants to be represented for the last eight years while I was in the Texas House, I know how to get things done.”
The governor endorsed Springer this month after Luther sharply criticized Abbott.
Luther said, “I called him a tyrant because he’s actually going against our rights, and he’s acting like he’s the only one responsible for telling people what to do in Texas, especially not calling a special session, to allow anyone else to have any input.”
Springer said, “I’m honored to have the governor’s endorsement. I’ve worked with him for six years on the Texas miracle, the things that are keeping Texas great, and we’ve agreed on an awful lot of things. And we’ve disagreed on things over the years.”
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick previously told CBS 11 he would not make an endorsement in this race.
On Wednesday, Patrick challenged both Luther and Springer to support his plan to ask state senators in the upcoming legislative session in January to lower the number of votes needed to bring a bill to the Senate floor from 19 to 18, the Republican majority in the new session.
That would keep Democrats from blocking bills from getting to the floor.
Both Luther and Springer quickly tweeted their support for Patrick’s plan.
In a statement, Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said, “This is dead wrong, and Texans everywhere should be outraged. If Dan Patrick is successful, the voices of Texans across the state will be ignored.”
Luther said if elected, her two other top priorities are passing constitutional carry, which would allow people to carry concealed firearms without a state license.
She also said she wants to abolish abortions.
Springer said if elected, his two other top legislative priorities are providing everyone with broadband in rural areas and lowering property taxes.
He said he would favor rebalancing how the state relies on property taxes compared to sales or consumption taxes.
As political analysts will tell you, runoff elections are challenging for candidates because so few people actually vote.
Both candidates said they are doing what they can to make sure their supporters go to the polls.
Luther said, “We’ve put 40,000 miles on just one of our vehicles in the last three months. So we are making sure that we go to try to talk to as many people as possible, let them see my face. Let them know because, you know, half the district is rural.”
Springer said, “We have an aggressive get out the vote campaign where we’ve targeted the folks who are supporting us. You know, I’ve got my sticker on today. So I’d encourage everybody early voting started to today in Senate District 30 to get out there and vote. You know, we have left no stones unturned.”
Election Day is Saturday, Dec. 19.
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