On Saturday, August 8, Republican Party activists in Texas’ 4th Congressional District will have the unique opportunity to select their congressional nominee—not by a primary election, but at a convention.
In May, former U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as Director of National Intelligence under President Donald Trump.
That left a unique situation to fill his replacement on the November ballot. With the vacancy occurring too close to the November general election to hold a special election and runoff—and after the March primary election in which Republican voters elected to keep him as their nominee—Republican Party precinct chairs and county chairs within the 18-county congressional district will convene a “Congressional District Executive Committee” in Sulphur Springs to choose a candidate to replace the outgoing congressman on the November ballot.
Effectively, this group of activists will choose the next congressman in the safely red district that cuts from Rockwall through Northeast Texas to the Arkansas border.
Though nearly 20 candidates have expressed their intention to run, two candidates have captured the majority of the attention: State Sen. Pat Fallon (R–Prosper) and conservative activist Aaron Harris.
Fallon has made his experience the cornerstone of his campaign. First elected to the Texas House in 2012, Fallon later defeated Republican incumbent Craig Estes to move to the Texas Senate in 2018.
In September of 2019, Fallon announced he was exploring a potential primary challenge to U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. But just one month later, Fallon backed out, citing concerns over the time away from home that a campaign would entail.
Despite his criticism of Cornyn, however, Fallon boasts the endorsement of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who is rumored to help stump for him during Saturday’s convention.
In a rare move, however, Cruz’ endorsement is out of line with some conservative organizations, who have instead endorsed Aaron Harris.
Harris is a longtime conservative activist most known for his work on local elections and identifying election fraud. He previously worked as executive director of Direct Action Texas, and he currently works as chief of staff to Congressman Lance Gooden.
Though both Fallon and Harris have taken some heat over accusations of “carpetbagging” to the district, election law does not require congressmen to live within the district they represent.
Of course, regardless of endorsements, the decision will ultimately be made by the county and precinct chairs that show up on Saturday. And due to the unique nature of the convention format, anything could happen.
Candidates who have announced:
Rodney Adams is a Hunt County resident and the executive director of Munger Place Church in east Dallas.
Casey Campbell is a trial lawyer who previously worked for Congressman Sam Johnson and in the office of government affairs at Koch Industries.
John Cooper is a medical doctor who unsuccessfully challenged John Ratcliffe for the seat in 2018.
Pat Fallon is a small businessman who served three terms in the Texas House and was elected to the Texas Senate in 2018. Once a “Taxpayer Champion” with a score of 98 on the Fiscal Responsibility Index, Fallon’s record has declined each session and currently stands at 80. Fallon has received the endorsement of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.
Steve Gorman is a retired airline pilot and bomb dog trainer from Grayson County.
Aaron Harris is a longtime conservative activist most known for his work on local elections and identifying election fraud. He previously worked as executive director of Direct Action Texas and currently works as chief of staff to Congressman Lance Gooden. His campaign has been endorsed by Young Conservatives of Texas and Grassroots America – We the People.
Trace Johannesen is a business strategy consultant and member of the Rockwall City Council.
T.C. Manning is a Navy veteran who unsuccessfully ran in the March primary for the Houston-based 18th Congressional District.
Floyd McLendon is a retired Navy SEAL who now works as a professional speaker and a published author. He campaigned for Congress this year, seeking election in the Dallas-based 32nd Congressional District, but lost the Republican nomination to Genevieve Collins.
Tim McCord is an engineer who has served as an election judge for 30 years.
Jim Pruitt is an attorney and former Dallas criminal court judge. He is the incumbent mayor of Rockwall, Texas.
Travis Ransom works for Offenhauser Insurance and serves as the mayor of Atlanta, Texas.
Jason Ross is an attorney in Rockwall who previously worked as Congressman John Ratcliffe’s district chief of staff. His campaign has been endorsed by Michele Ratcliffe.
Cristopher Schell is an attorney who previously served as a staffer for former U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall, who held the seat before Ratcliffe.
Joe Vrasic is a farmer, small-business owner, and private pilot in Fannin County.
Robert West is a Republican precinct chair in Delta County and a conservative activist.
Bob Worthen is a businessman from Texarkana. He is the managing partner of R&P Worthen LLP.