As of Sunday, the only person officially listed as a candidate for the next U.S. Senate election is Geraldine Sam, the former mayor of La Marque.
Sam, 66, was the first person to get her name on the statewide ballot. She is challenging Ted Cruz in the Republican primary, and, as of Sunday, was still the only person listed as a candidate for the Senate seat on the Texas Secretary of State’s website.
Sam did not respond to multiple phone and text messages seeking comment on Friday and Sunday.
On her Facebook page, where she announced her bid, Sam said she believes President Donald Trump, whom she called “45,” has made many mistakes.
“There must be someone there to speak against them,” Sam said. “I am speaking about real solutions for real concerns.”
She did not mention Cruz.
Carl Gustafson, the chairman of the Republican Party of Galveston County, on Sunday confirmed that Sam had declared her candidacy. He declined to go much further than that.
“I think Senator Cruz has done a good job,” Gustafson said. “I like Geraldine Sam. She’s a nice lady.”
In order to file for a place on the statewide ballot, a candidate must pay $5,000 or present a petition with at least 5,000 signatures.
There’s still plenty of time for other candidates to get their names on the ballot. The application window doesn’t close until Dec. 11.
Cruz has already said he plans to run again. U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, an El Paso Democrat, is the favorite to end up challenging him in the general election next November.
O’Rourke’s bid has received national attention, including a write up in The New York Times in May, and is looking like one of the few races in which a Democrat might threaten a Republican in Texas in 2018.
There are other, lesser-known names that have said they will run for the seat, including Houston energy lawyer Stefano de Stefano and Christian TV producer Bruce Jacobson.
Dan McQueen, who was the mayor of Corpus Christi but quit 37 days into his term, had announced he was going to run for the seat. But on Friday, McQueen told the Corpus Christi Caller Times reporter he was dropping that idea and supporting Jacobson.
Like Sam, they all have little in the way of national profile, except for a few fleeting moments in the spotlight.
Sam did make national headlines last year during the 2016 Republican National Convention by attacking Cruz.
After Cruz refused to make an outright endorsement of President Donald Trump — and gave a speech at the convention in which his non-endorsement was conspicuous — Sam, who was a Texas delegate to the convention, announced that she had become a Trump supporter in an interview with CNN.
“If you cannot be a person, a word of your bond, then guess what, if I can’t trust you to say and do what you’re going to say, then how are you going to expect me to trust you to say any other things?” Sam said at the time.
Aside from name recognition, Cruz’s GOP challengers will have to deal with his $6 million campaign war chest. Sam does not have any recent campaign finance filings with the Federal Election Commission.
Sam was mayor of La Marque from 2009 to 2011. She was the first African-American mayor of that city, and the first African-American woman to be elected as mayor of any city in Galveston County. She was removed from office early in a recall election amid criticisms of her leadership.
Her mayoral victory aside, Sam is something of a perpetual candidate. She ran unsuccessful campaigns for the city council in 1985, 1990 and 2004, and lost bids for mayor in 2004 and 2011, immediately after her removal. She twice ran, and lost, for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994 and 1996. And she failed to be elected as Galveston County district clerk in 1998.
However improbable her campaign against Cruz is, Sam is trying to make state history. Texas has never had an African American U.S. Senator. Its only female senator was Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Like Sam, Hutchison was from La Marque.
The primary elections are on March 6, 2018.