Gov. Greg Abbott endorses Drew Springer over Shelley Luther in Texas Senate special election runoff

Drew Springer at The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 28, 2019. Credit: Juan Figueroa for The Texas Tribune

by Patrick Svitek, The Texas Tribune.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday endorsed state Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, in his bid to join the Texas Senate, charging into a heated intraparty battle where Abbott’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has become a central issue.

Springer is in a Dec. 19 special election runoff against Shelley Luther, the Dallas salon owner who was jailed earlier this year over her refusal to close her business due to coronavirus restrictions. They are competing to replace fellow Republican Pat Fallon, who is vacating the solidly red seat in mostly rural North Texas after winning a congressional campaign.

Luther has been an outspoken critic of Abbott’s pandemic management, calling him a “tyrant governor” for the business shutdowns he put in place to slow the spread of the virus.

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In a half-minute video backing Springer, Abbott called Springer a “proven conservative,” touted his legislative record and noted he is “the only candidate in this race endorsed by the NRA,” the National Rifle Association.

Luther and Springer finished neck and neck in the six-way Sept. 29 special election, with her leading by 115 votes.

Early voting for the runoff starts Dec. 9.