Well, well. A Republican candidate for the to-be-vacated SD3 seat has accused outgoing Sen. Todd Staples of asking him to drop out in favor of another candidate.
Saying that "back room politics are alive and well in East Texas," state Senate District 3 candidate David Kleimann, of Willis, claimed Tuesday that Sen. Todd Staples, R-Palestine, has asked him to drop out of the race because the seat has been promised to another candidate.
Officials with the Staples campaign called the allegation "ridiculous."
During a press conference in the Montgomery County Commissioners Courtroom, Kleimann, standing with his wife Kim and daughter Meredith, read a prepared statement in front of approximately two dozen supporters and spectators, saying that he had been asked by many people in East Texas to run for Staples' Senate seat.
"However, last week, on Tuesday, June 7, at around 11:30 in the morning," Kleimann said, "I received a phone call from Senator Todd Staples. He asked me to drop out of this race. He said this Senate seat, and I quote, 'has been promised to another man.'
"According to Staples, who is not going to run for the Senate again, he and many in Austin have already hand-picked his replacement."
Kleimann stated that the man promised Staples' seat is Robert Nichols, of Jacksonville, who recently said he is considering throwing his hat in the ring if Staples runs for Agriculture Commissioner.
Speaking forcefully, Kleimann said, "We're going to let the people's voice be heard. Why are we a Republican-controlled House and Senate and still having tax increases?"
Kleimann was obviously angry by the alleged phone call from Staples.
"I've worked with him on many issues; we think alike on many issues," he said. "This is a stab in the back. I told him, 'How could I possibly back out?'
"I was shocked."
Nichols, appointed to the Texas Transportation Commission by then-Gov. George W. Bush and reappointed by Perry, is the owner of Robert Nichols Industries and has served as a Jacksonville City Council member and its mayor. He denied any knowledge of Staples promising him the SD3 seat.
"That's not a conversation I was privy to," he said. "I've never heard of elected seats being promised to anyone. That would definitely be an improper thing to say. It would be hard for one to believe Senator Staples would say that."
In a previous Courier story about Kleimann and SD3 candidate Frank Denton, a Conroe businessman, Staples' chief of staff, Shannon Rusing, said it would be "inappropriate" for Staples to comment on any SD3 candidate since he had not yet formally announced his candidacy for Agriculture Commissioner.
But in a recent story about Nichols published in the Jacksonville Progress, Staples was quoted as saying, "Robert Nichols has a distinguished record of accomplishment for Texas. ... His leadership on local and state issues would make him an extremely productive voice in the Texas Senate."