AUSTIN – AUSTin, Texas (AP) Republican Party chairman Sam Smith says he will not endorse Texas Senate candidate Joe Lockhart in the Nov. 4 special election to fill the seat left vacant when Republican Gov.
Greg Abbott resigned.
But he says he’s committed to supporting Republican Greg Abbott’s re-election, even if it means supporting a Democrat.
The Texas Tribune reports that Smith, who is retiring from the GOP after serving eight years as a state representative, will be in Austin on Thursday for the first time since the 2016 election.
“I have been very committed to the party and I will continue to be, but I’m not going to do anything unless the party does what I say it should do,” he told the Texas Tribune.
He did not say if he would seek to replace Abbott.
Lockhart was elected to the Senate last November.
The Republican Party said in a statement that Lockhart has not officially declared his intentions.
“Our position is that we support Greg Abbott, even though he did not win the election,” the statement said.
“We support the Republican Party in the upcoming election, and we look forward to supporting Joe Lockham in the fall.”
Abbott resigned last month amid sexual misconduct allegations, but has refused to step aside.
The GOP also has been in the middle of an ethics investigation into Lockhart, who announced his candidacy this week.
A spokesman for the state GOP did not immediately return a request for comment on the possibility of a future endorsement.
Democrats say Lockhart is likely to be a stronger candidate for the Senate seat if Abbott’s name is on the ballot.
Texas Democrats will hold a primary election on Saturday, May 18, and have already begun soliciting donations for Lockhart.
The Republican Party did not endorse Lockhart until after his election.