Tarrant County will have at least three new legislators in the Texas Legislature after this year’s election.
Resignation, re-election and the prospect of new leadership roles have left two seats vacant in the House of Representatives and one in the Senate. Voters will select their top Republican and Democratic nominees for the three seats on March 1.
Tarrant County has vacancies in Senate District 12, long held by Republican Senator Jane Nelson of Flower Mound. Nelson, who is in her 10th term, announced her resignation from the House of Lords in July. Freshman Rep. Jeff Cason, R-Bedford, announced he will not run for House District 92 after it was reconfigured in the most recent redistricting cycle. Rep. Matt Krause, a Republican from Fort Worth, is vacating his seat in House District 93 at the end of his term to pursue the Tarrant County District Attorney.
Jim Riddlesperger, a professor of political science at TCU, said it’s not uncommon to have three spots open. Redistribution of years can also contribute to sales for a variety of reasons, he said.
“Open seats are always an opportunity to have new views represented in the legislature,” he said, adding that “votes in the Democratic and Republican parties can influence the legislature” when they align with other lawmakers.
Early voting begins on Monday.
Here’s what you should know about the Tarrant County state races with no incumbent on the ballot.
Texas Senate District 12
Senate District 12, which includes Wise County, about half of Denton County and a small portion of Tarrant County, will have its first new senator in almost three decades. Four candidates are running to replace Nelson, who had a key role as Treasury Committee chairman — two Republicans and two Democrats, meaning neither race will go to a runoff.
Flower Mound State Assemblyman Tan Parker and security and fire alarm company owner Chris Russell are running as Republicans. Court Coordinator Francine Ly of Irving and Lantana real estate agent Ferdi Mongo is running as a Democrat.
Candidates’ financial statements for the Jan. 1-20 campaign show that Parker has more than $623,000 to spend. He received approximately $12,000 in donations, including $10,000 from billionaire Robert Rowling, who owns Omni Hotels, and reported spending in excess of $490,000. Russell reported $17,550 in donations, $16,000 in donations including $15,000 from the Texas Burglar & Fire Alarm Association, and $1,643 in expenses.
Parker has represented House District 63 since 2007. The district comprised the southwest portion of Denton County on the previous maps and was moved more south to center during the last redistricting cycle.
His top priorities, according to a candidate questionnaire submitted to Star-Telegram, include pushing back on federal trespassing, securing the border, assisting law enforcement, facilitating property taxes and being transparent with reviews.
Russell’s priorities include capping the “runaway property tax”, term limits for lawmakers and being able to give a voice to “those who are mistreated, ignored or overlooked in our society,” namely children, the elderly and the disabled.
Ly reported that for the 20-day period in January, he had $14,726 on his disposal, along with $18,529 in contributions and $8,834 in expenses. Mongo reported $245 in available and in posts and $3,619 in posts.
Top issues for Ly include jobs and education, rural broadband access, other infrastructure issues, and health care funding to “maintain meaningful and quality rural hospital services, including accessibility of maternity wards.”
Mongo listed the struggle for “democracy as an ideal,” higher wages, and “free vocational training and higher education to build a strong working class” as his top three priorities.
House district 92
Cason announced that he would not stand for re-election in December. Every 10 years, the legislature has the task of redrawing the boundaries of the house districts. In this cycle, House District 92 was drawn to have a sleek Democratic character, a departure from its earlier boundaries.
“There’s no point running in a dark blue Democratic district where the GOP leadership and the Tarrant County delegation have decided to place me and my neighbors,” Cason said in a statement at the time.
The election for HD-92, historically led by Republicans with Rep. Jonathan Stickland ahead of Cason, could be an opportunity for Democrats to turn the seat. The Democrat who will face undisputed Republican Joe Livingston, a real estate agent, in March’s general election.
Three Democrats ran for the seat: Salman Bhojani, Tracy Scott and Dinesh Sharma.
Bhojani, an attorney and former Euless City Council member, reported nearly $60,000 in cash, $30,585 in expenses and $7,960 in donations. According to his candidate questionnaire, his priorities include expanding Medicaid and protecting reproductive rights.
Scott, the founder and president of Black Women’s PAC in Texas, reported $5,472 on hand, $8,845 in contributions and $12,681 in expenses. She did not return a candidate questionnaire to Star-Telegram.
Sharma, a solution architect, reported $5,096 in available funds and contributions and $4,433 in expenses. His priorities include women’s reproductive rights, such as repealing Texas’ new abortion law, improving social justice and improving public education.
House District 93
The vacancy in House District 93 will result in new representatives at the state and city levels.
Krause originally announced that he would not seek re-election to run for Texas attorney general, but later switched races to run for Tarrant County district attorney.
Cary Moon, a Fort Worth City Councilman who is eyeing the Texas House seat, which includes part of northern and central Tarrant County, faces former Southlake Mayor Laura Hill and former Pastor Nate Schatzline in the Republican primary .
The race has made headlines in connection with Moon’s DWI arrest in October 2020 and a complaint filed against Hill accusing her of not living in the district.
Moon reported holdings of $112,076 in January. He received $1,200 in donations, including $1,000 from a single donor, and $6,956 in expenses. Hill’s hand is $85,405. She reported $22,036 in contributions and $63,660 in expenses. Both candidates have made substantial loans to each other, previous campaign finance reports show. Moon reported a $92,000 loan and Hill a $100,000 loan.
Schatzline reported holdings of $43,862, contributions of $11,912 and expenses of $9,891.
In his questionnaire, Moon cited “individual freedoms and the rule of law,” tax cuts, and improving education as his priorities. Hill said she would like to allow cities to increase the homestead tax exemption to 25% from the current maximum of 20%, propose a “gradual rollback of school property taxes for seniors” and fight human trafficking. Schatzline’s priorities include fighting “CRT/Marxism in schools,” securing the border, and defending liberties: “No more closed churches and businesses—no mandates,” he wrote.