Shortly after officially announcing that he would be seeking re-election, Gov. Greg Abbott now has a Democrat opponent in the race.

Dallas businessman Jeffrey Payne told reporters last week that he intends to throw his hat into the ring and campaign as a Democrat for Texas’ highest office. Payne would be expected to face an extremely arduous, uphill battle against Abbott in ruby-red, Republican Texas.

Payne is a political novice, and is attempting to position himself as so. However, he has long been involved with various political lobbying activities and one of his business ventures is a court reporting firm. Payne is also involved in Dallas real estate and operates the Dallas Eagle, a local bar in the Metroplex.

According to its website, the Dallas Eagle is a “Leather/Levi bar” and “most patrons come to a leather/levi bar looking for certain types of men.” The “Dress Code” section on the bar’s website encourages patrons to wear harnesses, chaps, and chainmail amongst other exotic accessories.

In 2009, Payne was voted “International Mister Leather” at an eponymous and annual conference and competition in Chicago, IL.

Despite his background, Payne has voiced his desire to run on a platform that is not based around his sexual orientation, and says he hopes to focus on things such as education and foster care reform.

Payne has positioned himself as purely an opposition candidate to Abbott, and in his various public interviews has challenged the governor’s support for banning sanctuary cities and his agenda for the current ongoing special session.

Although he is one of the first to enter the race, Payne is not the only candidate to announce their intent to campaign against Abbott. Currently, Thomas Wakely, a Democrat who unsuccessfully ran against U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith last year, is also in the race, and a few minor candidates have announced as Republicans and Libertarians as well.

Abbott has yet to comment on any of the individuals challenging him in his bid for re-election.

Abbott’s opponents come as Democrats have continued to organize campaigns against conservative incumbents such as U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and multiple members of the Texas Legislature.

In Abbott’s most recent campaign he obliterated Democrat nominee Wendy Davis in the 2014 general election. Currently the governor has more than $40 million in his warchest and will compete in a state that has not elected a Democrat statewide in more than two decades.

Barring a major shift in Texas’ electorate, Democrats running for the state will face a similar fate in 2018 as well.

Austin Goss

Austin Goss is the Capitol Correspondent for Empower Texans and Texas Scorecard. Hailing from Louisville, Kentucky, Austin is a Christian, soldier in the United States Army Reserves, and a student at the University of Texas at Austin. Follow Austin on Twitter @AG_Legacy