Note: This report has been updated since we sent our Breaking News alert.
Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) announced he would not seek re-election to a fifth term.
“Eight years was enough for George Washington, and it certainly is for me,” Stickland wrote in a Facebook post. “After much prayerful consideration and reflection, I have determined it is not the Lord’s will for me to seek reelection. Instead, I intend to dedicate more time to my family, my church, and my business.”
Stickland was first elected in 2012 and won re-election three times. In 2018, he defeated Bedford information technology manager Steve Riddell, 50%-47%, his closest race to date. He won by 17 points in 2016.
Stickland is the second incumbent legislator to officially announce he would not seek re-election. Former Rep. Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) resigned just before being sworn in as mayor of Dallas.
“When I first considered running, I dreamt of one day leaving on my own terms, not being rejected by my neighbors after staying for too long or losing sight of the values they sent me to defend,” Stickland wrote. “I am thankful that I’m now blessed with the opportunity to do just that.”
Stickland was facing a potentially difficult road to re-election in a Northeast Tarrant Co. district that has been growing more competitive during the past 16 years. In 2002, the precincts that currently comprise HD92 were 11.7 percentage points redder than the state as a whole. Last year, the district was just 0.5 percentage points redder. Stickland has under-performed other Republicans in his district the last three election cycles, ranging from 1.3 percentage points lower than the Republican average to 3.0 percentage points lower last year (Alternatively, his Democratic challengers have over-performed other Democrats in the district.).
Calculated head-to-head against the Republicans, the average Democratic candidate’s share of the vote has risen from 30% in 2002 to 46% in 2018. Six points of that shift occurred since President Trump’s election in 2016. Part of the reason is a 29% increase in straight-party Democratic voting since 2012 while the number of straight-party Republican votes has fallen 8%. Stickland’s advantage in straight-party voting was 5,302 votes in 2018. In 2016, it was more than 8K, and it was more than 11K in 2012.
Alongside a shrinking advantage among purely partisan voters, Stickland also lost significant ground among full-ballot voters who do not use the single-punch, straight-party option. Stickland received 57% of the full-ballot vote in 2016 and only 39% in 2018. Stickland received more than 10K votes from full-ballot voters in 2016, but fewer than 7K voted for him in 2018.
Of course, the single-punch, straight-party option will not be available to voters in 2020, and all voters will become what we refer to as full-ballot voters.
Two potential Republican candidates are former Hurst council member Trasa Cobern, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for Tarrant Co. Tax Assessor-Collector in 2018 (21%), and Bedford council member Roger Fisher, who lost the 2012 Republican primary for HD92 to Stickland, 60%-40%. Cobern, the daughter of Duck Dynasty’s Si Robertson, is the Tarrant Co. Republican Party’s outreach chair. In a Facebook post, Fisher said he will spend “the next few weeks in prayerful consideration with my family about the future of HD92 [and] … the prospect of running again.” Fisher’s council term expires in 2020. Riddell is once again seeking the Democratic nomination. Others are likely to step forward.
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