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Who Is Don Huffines? Former State Senator Challenges Gov. Greg Abbott.

Don Huffines.
David Chong
Don Huffines in a 2014 interview with KERA's Shelley Kofler.

Former state Sen. Don Huffines announced on Monday that he’s challenging Gov. Greg Abbott in the 2022 primary race.

Huffines is a conservative Republican from Dallas who’s criticized Abbott for being too slow to fully reopen the state during the pandemic. He's also blamed Abbott for the statewide blackouts during February's catastrophic winter snowstorm.

“For too long, Texas has been let down by politicians who offer nothing but excuses and lies,” he said in a press release, which didn't directly mention Abbott.

Huffines is calling for stronger action on border security, election integrity and property taxes. He said he’s committed to finishing the border wall and rooting out corruption in Austin.

He served in Dallas’ Senate District 16 for one term before losing his seat in 2018 to Democrat Nathan Johnson. The district swung toward Democrats under former President Donald Trump, and Johnson beat Huffines by 8 percentage points in 2018. Huffines reached the Senate in 2015 by unseating Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas.

In the Senate, Huffines was known as a conservative firmly in his party's right wing. He led a crusade against the Dallas County Schools bus agency in response to reports of financial mismanagement, according to The Texas Tribune. The agency was ultimately forced to shut down and the Dallas County Schools board president Larry Duncan later pleaded guilty to tax evasion.

In a 2014 interview with KERA, Huffines said he supported term limits in the Texas senate, cutting taxes, school choice and teaching creationism.

Huffines was born and raised in Dallas. His family’s business, Huffines Motor Company, has been involved in car dealerships and real estate in North Texas for over 90 years.

After graduating from the University of Texas with a degree in finance, Huffines and his twin brother Phillip started Huffines Communities. The land development company is one of the largest in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Huffines has been married to his wife Mary Catherine for 36 years. He has five children and two grandchildren.

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Elizabeth Myong is KERA’s Arts Collaborative Reporter. She came to KERA from New York, where she worked as a CNBC fellow covering breaking news and politics. Before that, she freelanced as a features reporter for the Houston Chronicle and a modern arts reporter for Houstonia Magazine.