State Sen. Kel Seliger (R–Amarillo) will not be seeking re-election in 2022, opening up the 31st Senate District seat in West Texas for the first time in nearly two decades.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Seliger announced that after “thoughtful consideration,” he had decided to retire. Seliger has served in the Texas Senate since 2004, when he won a special election to replace then-Sen. Teel Bivins. Seliger has since been re-elected in each election cycle, including in 2018 when he narrowly avoided a runoff in a three-way Republican primary that included former Midland mayor Mike Canon and former Muleshoe mayor and restaurateur Victor Leal.

During his time in the Senate, however, Seliger has staked ground as one of the most liberal Republicans in the chamber, repeatedly voting against property tax reform efforts, bans to end taxpayer-funded lobbying, and, most recently, legislation to audit Texas elections.

Seliger was facing new challenges in his prospects for a potential re-election campaign next year, with new voters added to District 31 and two announced primary challengers: Midland businessman Kevin Sparks and Coahoma ISD Trustee Stormy Bradley. Former President Donald Trump had already issued an endorsement for Sparks, activating conservative Trump voters’ interest in Seliger’s challenger.

In response to Seliger’s announcement, Sparks told Texas Scorecard that he was thankful for the senator’s time in office and that he looks forward to meeting voters in his campaign for the seat.

“I thank Sen. Seliger for his nearly 20 years of service in the Texas Senate,” Sparks said. “I look forward to the opportunity to meet with and earn the votes of the hardworking families of Senate District 31.”

Candidates who are interested in running for Texas Senate District 31 can begin filing next month. As of right now, the Republican primary election is scheduled for March 1, 2022.

Thomas Warren

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