RICHMOND (Covering Fort Bend News) – Republican Sheriff Troy Nehls has launched a 2020 exploratory committee to run for the congressional seat being vacated by Republican Pete Olson. He's also launched a website and says he's raised more than $100,000 in contributions from District 22 voters.
The exploratory committee is widely believed to be a formality. Nehls is expected to wait until December to officially announce that he's running. Any announcement prior to that would mean he'd have to step down as Fort Bend County Sheriff, something he's said he's not willing to do. If Nehls waits until he's one year and 30 days away from the election he can announce his candidacy without vacating his current position.
“Since publicly announcing I would not be running again for Sheriff, I’ve been inundated with calls, emails, and letters from District 22 residents encouraging me to run for our open congressional seat,” said Sheriff Nehls. “That encouragement has come in the form of financial support too, with my exploratory committee receiving over $100,000 from District 22 residents in just a few short weeks. The outpouring of support and encouragement has been truly overwhelming.”
Nehls considered a primary run against incumbent Congressman Pete Olson in 2018 but never filed to run. He was expected to file until he ignited a social media firestorm in mid-November 2017 where he suggested filing charges against the driver of a truck that had a very large sign in her rear window that said "F***k Trump and F***K you for voting for him."
The threat of possible charges and the arrest of the driver of the truck caused the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page to be flooded with negative comments, some accusing Nehls of violating the right to free speech and of abusing his power. The story made national news.
Nehls made matters worse when he said the District Attorney's Office would accept charges against the driver and the DA, also a Republican, said he he would not accept charges.
Two years later that controversy is over and Pete Olson is not running for re-election meaning Nehls has a easier path to victory in the GOP primary because he does not have to challenge a popular incumbent from his own party.
"I look forward to continuing discussions with voters across District 22 as I mull a run for our Congressional seat," Nehls said.