On Tuesday, former President Donald Trump endorsed Midland businessman Kevin Sparks, who is running against incumbent State Sen. Kel Seliger (R–Amarillo) for Texas Senate District 31.

In doing so, Trump said:

Kevin Sparks of the Great State of Texas is running against RINO Texas Senator Kel Seliger, who is not helpful to our great MAGA Movement and, in fact, seems like the Texas version of Mitt Romney (and that is not good!). Kevin is a businessman, loves the people of Midland and West Texas, must WIN in order to protect our Oil and Gas Workers, defend our Southern Border, our Military and our Vets, and fight for our America First policies. Kevin Sparks has my Complete and Total Endorsement!

Sparks announced his candidacy for District 31 in August, joining Republican challenger Stormy Bradley in the race. Bradley is a Coahoma ISD trustee.

Sparks is president of Discovery Operating Inc., an oil and gas company based in Midland. Sparks previously served as a board member of the Natural Gas Producers Association, Texas Public Policy Foundation, and High Sky Children’s Ranch.

Notably, the Texas Senate also considered and approved legislation Tuesday that would re-increase penalties for illegally voting, which were lowered via an amendment during the previous special legislative session. It was recently added to the ongoing special session agenda by Gov. Greg Abbott.

The lone Republican to vote against it was Seliger.

Dovetail that with comments by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick during the recent annual Permian Basin Petroleum Association Annual Meeting:

We really haven’t had a senator who’s an oil and gas person, and I think it’s important for your industry these days. If not in the industry, then someone’s who’s going to be all for the industry.

Patrick and Seliger have recently had a tense relationship. In 2019, Seliger was removed as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee in response to derogatory comments made against one of Patrick’s female staff members.

Seliger has consistently been rated as one of the lowest-performing Republicans in the state Senate. On Texans for Fiscal Responsibility’s Index, he was given a 57 out of 100 for the most recent legislative session. According to a Rice University index, Seliger was rated 18th most conservative of 31 senators and all 18 Republicans.

He has consistently found himself opposite of the rest of his Republican colleagues on many of his own party’s legislative priorities.

Jeramy Kitchen

Jeramy Kitchen serves as the Capitol Correspondent for Texas Scorecard as well as host of 'This Week in Texas', a show previewing the week ahead in Texas politics. After managing campaigns for conservative legislators across the state, serving as Chief of Staff for multiple conservative state legislators, and serving as Legislative Director for the largest public policy think tank in Texas, Jeramy moved outside of the Austin bubble to focus on bringing transparency to the legislative process.