Sparks avoids runoff in Texas Senate 31 race

Late Tuesday night election results over the immense 31st Texas State Senatorial District showed Midland's Kevin Sparks avoiding a May 24 runoff with Amarilloan Tim Reid.

With no Democrat in the contest, the winner of the Republican nomination will succeed the long-serving Sen. Kel Seliger of Amarillo, who, faced with redistricting that heavily weighted the district’s politics to the south, opted to retire from Austin’s fractitious political arena.

Sparks, an oilman who enjoyed powerful financial support from the district’s south end, had garnered 36,479 votes or 54 percent to Reid’s 16,562 votes or 24 percent.

Big Spring businesswoman Stormy Bradley and Amarillo attorney Jesse Quackenbush Jr. trailed with 10,137 votes or 15 percent and 4,445 votes or 7 percent, respectively.

State legislators last spring moved four counties out of the Panhandle and added 12 to the Permian Basin as the state’s population growth necessitated expanding the district to 45 counties.

Sparks said Tuesday night that he had hoped to avoid a runoff and was encouraged with his district-wide support. “We have been able to make a connection with people both in the north and south parts of the district, Amarillo as well as the rural areas north of there,” he said.

“They bought into our vision and were willing to work hard. They understand that we need more business people at the state level. Voters asked me how I would represent the agriculture, farming and ranching, the manufacturers and coffee shop owners and I said I’m a small businessman and I understand that we have a lot of the same struggles.”

Reid, a retired FBI agent and school teacher in Amarillo, conceded the race to Sparks Wednesday morning.

"Thank you doesn’t seem like enough, but I want to thank all of our family, friends, and supporters who gave their everything to this campaign. I loved getting to know our district and enjoyed every conversation I had while on the campaign trail. 

"I also want to congratulate Kevin Sparks on his win. I’ve gotten to know Kevin over the past couple of months and know he’ll work hard for our area in Austin. 

"Again, a big thank you to everyone. Please, know how grateful I am," Reid said.

Bradley thanked everyone who supported, but also called on the citizens to hold their elected officials accountable. 

"I just want to say thank you so much from the bottom of my heart. This was one of the most amazing challenges things I’ve faced. Your support is something I will never forget and I will take with me in the next race.

"Although I didn’t win the seat, I will continue to fight for all of you.  We need people with integrity back in office.  

"I hope to earn your support again in a future race. 

"PS. I hope you hold these newly elected officials accountable. They need it and you deserve it," Bradley said.

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