Runoff Review: Francis Fights to Keep District in Conservative Hands - Texas Scorecard

Perhaps the most hotly contested runoff race in the state is being held in between the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and West Texas, where conservatives are fighting to keep a Texas House seat from falling back into establishment hands.

Encompassing eight counties (Brown, Callahan, Coleman, Eastland, Hood, Palo Pinto, Shackelford, and Stephens), House District 60 is one of the most conservative districts in Texas in terms of its Republican turnout. However, it was long represented by one of the most liberal Republicans in Austin—State Rep. Jim Keffer of Eastland.

That changed when law enforcement veteran and Hood County Constable Mike Lang announced he would be challenging Keffer in the Republican primary. Fearing a defeat at the ballot box, Keffer declined to run for re-election and instead threw his support behind an establishment candidate, who Lang ultimately defeated to take the seat.

Lang then served two terms in the Texas House, during which he compiled a strong voting record on behalf of taxpayers—earning high marks on the Fiscal Responsibility Index and being named a “Taxpayer Champion” following both sessions.

After his most recent session, Lang was targeted by establishment forces who rallied around Glenn Rogers, a rancher and veterinarian, to challenge him for the seat. Kellye SoRelle, a local attorney, also entered the race.

The race completely changed course when Lang made a surprise announcement that he would be running for Hood County Commissioner instead.

Conservatives quickly rallied around Jon Francis, a small businessman and longtime activist. Francis has been endorsed by Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, Texas Right to Life, and the incumbent State Rep. Mike Lang.

Francis hit the campaign trail hard from the outset, touting his conservative credentials and plan for Texas. Meanwhile, Rogers touted his support for taxpayer-funded lobbying and his opposition to constitutional carry on the campaign trail.

Francis earned first place in the March GOP primary, but fell short of an outright victory due to other candidates in the race. As a result, it’s a battle between him and Rogers for the seat.

That battle was originally set to be concluded on May 26, but the primary runoff elections have been delayed until July 14 due to the Chinese coronavirus. This crisis has also forced campaigns to think differently, as election season staples such as door-to-door block walking and in-person events have been largely out of the question.

The Francis campaign has responded by prioritizing voter contact via phone calls and social media, with the candidate recording multiple videos of his stances on issues, including a protest against the jailing of Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther.

“This morning, I woke up thinking about Shelley Luther, the owner of a small salon in Dallas. The liberals in Dallas County fined her $7,000 for cutting her customers’ hair. They also sentenced her to seven days in jail, where she is right now,” wrote Francis in a Facebook post yesterday. “This is insane to me, and I decided to do something about it. I drove to Dallas to attend a rally outside the courthouse.”

Rogers has been less active, but he has also provided updates via his Facebook page. One post calls on citizens to be sure they return their census forms.

On April 22, Rogers posted the following:

“The 2020 Census is tremendously important.

 

“The results of this once-a-decade count determine the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives. They are also used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.

 

“With redistricting on the horizon, completing the 2020 Census is more important now than ever before. Your voice is vitally important in Texas, and more importantly, Rural Texas. Please take a moment and complete the 2020 Census and let your voice count.”

Whichever candidate wins the Republican primary can expect to win the election in November in the safely Republican seat.