70ºF

Shelley Luther, Dallas salon owner who pressured Texas to reopen salons, says she’s running for state Senate

photo

Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther speaks to a crowd at the 'Texas Bar Owners Fight Back' protest at the state Capitol in June. Credit: Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune

Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news.

Shelley Luther, the Dallas salon owner who was jailed over reopening her business amid the coronavirus pandemic, said Saturday that she is running for Texas Senate.

Luther, who lives in Denton County, had been considering a run to replace state Sen. Pat Fallon, R-Prosper, in a yet-to-be-called special election now that he is poised to head to Congress.

"You better bet I'm putting my hat in the ring," Luther said during a "Back the Blue" rally supporting law enforcement in Denton County.

Luther became a hero to some on the right earlier this year after she was jailed for contempt of court for refusing to apologize for illegally reopening her salon. She was freed two days later after Gov. Greg Abbott removed the threat of jail time from an executive order and the Texas Supreme Court granted a motion for her release.

At the rally, Luther touted herself to a cheering crowd as someone who would "stand up and go to jail for you," saying she would "do it again and again because I'm gonna fight to keep our Texas values." She made the remarks in a video from the rally posted to her Twitter account.

Earlier this month, county and precinct chairs picked Fallon to replace former U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Heath, on the fall ballot now that Ratcliffe is the director of national intelligence. While there is a Democratic nominee, Russell Foster, Fallon is likely to win in November because the congressional district is overwhelmingly Republican.

The special election to finish Fallon's term in safely red Senate District 30 has not been set yet — and it cannot be scheduled until he vacates the seat. He could do that automatically by taking office in January as a congressman or by resigning early.

Fallon said Wednesday he is still figuring out when to vacate the seat but that he was intent on ensuring there is "not gonna be a gap where there's no senator."

Luther likely will not have the race to herself. Denton Mayor Chris Watts appointed a campaign treasurer for Fallon's seat shortly after he won the congressional nomination, and state Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, is looking at a run for the state Senate seat.

Retiring state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, recently bought property inside Senate District 30 but conceded earlier this week he is ineligible to run. The Texas Constitution requires that people running for state Senate reside in the district a year before the election.