Denton City Council member Keely Briggs announced her bid to run for Texas Senate District 30 after filing campaign paperwork Thursday in Austin. She intends to run as an independent.
Because she is running as an independent, Briggs’ name won't be on the ballot for the March 6 primary election. Instead, she must petition for placement on the November ballot.
“I know some people will be disappointed that I’m not running as a Democrat, but I don’t feel that I align with either party,” Briggs said. “On City Council, I learned it was most effective when I chose people over party.”
She said she believes those values can work at the state level, too.
No one has yet filed to run as a Democrat for the far-flung state senate district that runs from Wichita Falls to Stephenville to Anna and covers most — but not all — of the city of Denton.
State Sen. Craig Estes, a Republican from Wichita Falls, has filed for re-election, but the battle to keep the seat he has held since 2001 may be his toughest yet. Outgoing state Rep. Pat Fallon, a Republican from Frisco, called himself the true conservative as he filed to run against Estes in the March 6 primary.
A recent poll released by Fallon’s campaign ostensibly shows he has gained ground against Estes since September. Fallon announced his run in September and followed it with an advertising campaign.
Briggs said either man should face a challenge on Election Day, which is Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.
Running as an independent is its own challenge in Texas, where the primary elections aren't fully open. Voters may cast a ballot in either the Democratic or Republican primary, but not both. Any District 30 voter who casts a ballot in the primary would not be eligible to sign Briggs' petition to run as an independent, with one notable exception. Should no Democrat file to run for District 30, Democratic primary voters could sign Brigg's petition to run as an independent.
Briggs must wait until after the primaries to begin gathering signatures for her petition to run. She must gather 500 signatures of registered voters from the district. Her deadline to submit the signatures and get on the November ballot is June 23.
Briggs is not required to resign her City Council seat to run. However, she cannot keep her council seat and hold another “public office of emolument.” If Briggs wins the election, she would be required to resign her council seat at some point before her January 2019 swearing-in.
Her current term on City Council ends in May 2019.
Briggs said she intends to give her full attention to her council duties even as she campaigns for District 30.
She has appointed Denton resident Randy Hunt as her campaign treasurer. Her campaign can begin accepting contributions, but she said she won’t assemble a team to help gather signatures until after the primaries in March.
Two recent polls, one in September and a second in November, showed Fallon gained 12 points against Estes among likely Republican voters, putting the two nearly neck and neck.
About 30 percent of the respondents said they would vote for Estes and 27 percent said they would vote for Fallon.
The poll was taken for the Fallon campaign by The Wickers Group, a political consulting group based in San Francisco. Professional interviewers called 300 district residents randomly from a stratified list of registered voters and considered likely to vote in the March primary, reaching 30 percent on their cellphones. The list was stratified by age, race, gender and county of residence similar to previous voter turnouts to increase confidence that the survey would be accurate. The Wickers Group said the study’s margin of error was plus-or-minus 5.5 percent.
Neither the Fallon nor the Estes campaign returned messages for comment Thursday.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881.
In The Know
All three candidates have campaign websites with more information on their views and values, as well as ways to help their campaigns by donating or volunteering.
FEATURED PHOTO: Denton City Council member Keely Briggs addresses the audience's concerns about human trafficking in Denton County during the Denton County Human Trafficking Coalition Expo 2017. Jeff Woo/DRC