Amarillo City Councilwoman Elaine Hays is officially in the contest to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon).

Hays declared her candidacy in a press release on Wednesday morning, exactly a month after launching an exploratory committee in preparation for a possible congressional bid. Hays’ bid will mark her second foray into federal politics, as she unsuccessfully challenged Thornberry in the 2014 Republican primary for the seat, winning about 19 percent of the vote. Hays later ran for a seat on the Amarillo City Council, ousting incumbent Elisha Demerson in the 2017 contest and holding off a challenge from Hayden Pedigo and two other candidates in the 2019 race. In both of her city council bids, Hays was aided by heavy spending from political action committees such as Amarillo Matters.

“We cannot sit quietly and hope for the best, so we must act to defend our conservative values against plans to eliminate fossil fuels, promote socialism, and do away with private health insurance,” Hays said in a statement.

While Hays is already framing her bid as a fiscal conservative, her record on the Amarillo City Council has caused concerns among grassroots voters for some time. Hays voted to amend the City of Amarillo’s red-light camera contract, adding more cameras to the streets last year. She also joined majorities of the city council in passing effective tax increases in Amarillo in 2017 and 2018.

Hays joins Josh Winegarner, Kevin McInturff, Vance Snider, and Monique Worthy in the Republican race, with former Potter County Justice of the Peace Richard Herman and Cooke County Judge Jason Brinkley also exploring possible bids for the seat. Democrat Greg Sagan is unopposed in his primary.

Thomas Warren

Thomas Warren, III is the editor-in-chief of the Amarillo Pioneer newspaper in Amarillo, Texas.


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