Seliger expects tough race … really, do ya think?

I don’t mean to disparage my friend Kel Seliger, but the Texas state senator has demonstrated a stunning command of the obvious.

He thinks he’s in for a tough fight for re-election to the Senate, given the presence of two Republican Party primary challengers ready to run against him in the spring of 2018. One of them came within 4 percentage points of defeating Seliger in 2014.

Seliger held a town hall meeting at Amarillo College’s downtown campus and received words of support from those in attendance.

I’ve already declared my preference that Seliger be re-elected to the seat he’s held since 2004. Seliger is smart, well-versed in Legislature-speak, has a command of the legislative process, is a traditional Republican conservative and has ascended to a leadership position among the 31 members of the Texas Senate.

However, he is facing some potentially stiff headwinds as he prepares for his re-election campaign.

Many Texas Republicans seem to think Seliger isn’t conservative enough. I am uncertain what constitutes a sufficiently conservative Republican in Texas. I guess it involves those who base their public policy on religious principles, who wear their faith on their shirt sleeves. Seliger isn’t wired that way. Instead, he is campaigning for re-election on a platform that seeks to keep power invested mostly in local communities, rather than the state. That sounds pretty damn conservative to me.

Former Midland Mayor Mike Canon is making another run at Seliger’s seat, along with Amarillo restauranteur Victor Leal. Canon is a TEA Party favorite, which I suppose makes him more amenable to the likes of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — who is no friend of Sen. Seliger. Canon had the support in 2014 of ultraconservative political activist Michael Quinn Sullivan and this time has the backing of Empower Texas, another conservative outfit that has it in for Seliger.

Leal’s backing? I’m not yet sure where his strength lies. He’s got some good name identification in Amarillo, owing to his successful business venture. He’s a former Muleshoe mayor who made a run for the Texas House in 2011; he was defeated by Four Price for the District 87 vacated when David Swinford retired from public life.

Senate District 31 is one of the most sprawling districts in Texas. It has grown over the years as Texas’s population has shifted east and south of the Panhandle. But through many decades, SD 31 has been represented by a Panhandle resident; Seliger was preceded by Teel Bivins, who was preceded by Bill Sarpalius, who was preceded by Bob Price, who came to office after Max Sherman.

Do you get my drift here?

Yet, Seliger has done a good job of acquainting himself with the needs of the South Plains and the Permian Basin.

Does he face a tough fight for re-election? Well, yeah! He does!

This GOP primary well might emerge as one of the most-watched contests in Texas in 2018. I hope Sen. Seliger is ready for the major-league scrap.

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