In a heated battle for a North Texas Senate seat, Gov. Greg Abbott is making his position official, endorsing against a salon owner who was sent to jail as a result of his shutdown orders.

After a vacancy in the Texas Senate opened up earlier this year when State Sen. Pat Fallon (R–Prosper) was nominated to replace U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe in Congress, Gov. Greg Abbott rushed to schedule a special election with only several weeks’ time, citing his ongoing disaster declaration over the Chinese coronavirus as a reason for calling the election so quickly. 

At the time, many saw that move as an attempt to aid State Rep. Drew Springer (R–Muenster) in his candidacy for the seat. Springer had previously been endorsed by Abbott in his campaigns for the Texas House.

The election was far from a coronation, however, with the entry of Shelley Luther.

Luther made national headlines this year when she opened up her Dallas hair salon in defiance of state and local shutdown orders. As a result, she spent two days in jail and became the face of Texans’ growing frustration with politicians who had enacted stay-at-home orders, mandates, and shutdowns.

Luther, Springer, and four other candidates filed for the race. On election night in September, Luther shocked the political establishment in Austin by taking first place, with Springer shortly behind and the two candidates entering a runoff race.

In a reversal from his previous haste to fill the seat, Abbott instead set the election for December 19, nearly three months after the original special election—another move many saw as an attempt to help Springer.

On Tuesday, Abbott made his support for Springer official in a campaign video.

Luther says the endorsement was expected.

Today, Governor Abbott publicized what we have all known for months: He is endorsing Drew Springer. It was Governor Abbott’s unconstitutional orders that put me in jail for opening my business, and Springer stood by as many SD 30 businesses declared bankruptcy or were prohibited from opening,” said Luther.

“The entire Austin swamp knows I can’t be bought. They know I will serve Senate District 30 without any strings attached, and it terrifies them,” she added. “We have expected from day one that the establishment would pull out all the stops, spending well over a million dollars, much of which is coming from liberal lobbyists and even a Democrat billionaire donor. This is all an effort to give Drew Springer a promotion and keep a fighter like me out.”

Additionally, Luther posted a picture on Facebook depicting Springer and Abbott standing together in a swamp.

Abbott’s endorsement comes after Andy Hopper—another candidate for the seat who failed to make the runoff—endorsed Luther, accusing Springer of being duplicitous on the campaign trail and citing concerns over his support for Dade Phelan for Speaker of the Texas House.

The special election runoff for Senate District 30 is set for December 19.