After a long primary election cycle, West Texas voters now know who will be representing them in the Texas Senate for the next four years.

On Tuesday night, Republican primary voters in Texas’ 31st Senate District elected Midland businessman Kevin Sparks as their new state senator, replacing the retiring incumbent, Sen. Kel Seliger (R–Amarillo). In unofficial results available through the secretary of state’s office on Wednesday morning, Sparks led the field with 55 percent of the vote.

Sparks was long viewed as the frontrunner in the four-candidate field that also included former Canyon ISD trustee Tim Reid, former Coahoma ISD trustee Stormy Bradley, and Amarillo attorney Jesse Quackenbush. Sparks earned the endorsements of former President Donald Trump, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and Texas Right to Life, boosting his standing as the race’s leading contender for months.

The race narrowed in its final weeks as Reid earned the backing of Amarillo Matters PAC, a campaign organization closely associated with Seliger and his supporters that was instrumental in generating support in Amarillo for his 2018 re-election campaign. Additionally, Reid acquired the financial backing of former Congressman Mac Thornberry, who contributed $15,000 in the final days of the campaign.

According to unofficial results, Sparks was trailed in the race by Reid with 23 percent, while Bradley and Quackenbush rounded out the field with 16 percent and 6 percent of the vote, respectively. Results also showed Sparks leading in the district’s four largest counties: Ector, Midland, Potter, and Randall.

Sparks’ win represents what is expected to be a major ideological shift in representation for District 31, which includes Amarillo and the Midland-Odessa area. While Seliger was consistently rated as one of the most liberal Republicans in the Texas Senate for numerous legislative sessions, Sparks ran on a decidedly more conservative platform, pledging to back initiatives to secure the border and ensure election integrity in Texas.

With his victory, Sparks will not face a Democrat or third-party opponent in November and is expected to win the seat unopposed in the general election.

Thomas Warren

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

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