Are Mike Canon and Victor Leal 'tag teaming' to defeat Kel Seliger?

Editor's note: This article has been updated throughout to include comments from Mike Canon.

The race between incumbent Kel Seliger and challengers Mike Canon and Victor Leal for the Texas Senate District 31 seat has quickly become one of the most watched GOP primaries in the state. Seliger is now accusing Canon and Leal of running in the primary as a "tag team" in an effort to defeat the incumbent Senator.

"Mike Canon and Victor Leal are simply a tag team organized and supported by Empower Texans / Texas Public Policy Foundation / Texans For Fiscal Responsibility. The main goal of these organizations, in my opinion, is to control Republican seats in the legislature.

"To be a TPPF / Empower Texans candidate is to promise compliance with their anti public education, anti local control, and pro big central government agenda," Seliger said.

Some people are speculating that Leal entered the race to siphon votes away from Seliger in order to help Canon force a runoff or win the primary outright. Leal stood firm in denying he and Canon are working together to defeat Seliger.

"Oh my, no!  We are both running to win our own races.

"I think liberals like Kel tend to claim victimhood and they feel entitled.  He has grown very comfortable to the trappings of power and it seems he has unfortunately become delusional. Add delusion to arrogance, throw in a dose of entitlement  and you get a toxic mixture," Leal said.

Canon called Seliger's claim that he and Leal are tag teaming in an effort defeat the incumbant Senator "hogwash."

"To use a phrase that my dad often used when he was alive: 'That’s pure hogwash,' meaning that there is absolutely no validity or truth to Seliger’s allegations.

"Mr. Leal is running his race, and I am running mine. There is no connection between the two campaigns whatsoever. We just both happen to have another opponent, the sitting Senator, who needs to go," Canon said.

Seliger noted that he has worked hard to represent all 37 counties in Texas Senate District 31.

"Going back to the time that Teel Bivins held this seat, a number of these individuals have been determined that this seat be in Midland. I have worked hard to represent all 37 counties in the district and don't think it a healthy situation to have a Senator who only represents a few wealthy oilmen.

"To that end, I am convinced that Mr. Leal is in this race simply to split the vote in the northern counties to throw the race into a runoff, which the Empower Texans/TPPF/TFR cabal think they can win. I am asked what sort of inducement Mr. Leal might accept to affect in this way.

"The fact is Mike Canon and Victor Leal, both with close ties to these groups, are simply lackeys of this group and are far more interested in serving them than in serving all of the people of this district," Seliger said.

Leal maintains that Seliger has seen the poll numbers and knows the popular restaurant owner is his main threat in this primary election.

"Kel has seen the polls and he knows I'm his main threat. He can't win by arguing his liberal  agenda or trying to defend his voting record that is out of touch with this conservative district so he is trying, unsuccessfully, to diminish me. It has backfired on him severely," Leal said.

Canon said that Seliger is using deception, scare tactics, and fake news to "deflect attention away from the truth."

"The Senator’s assertions remind me of the tactics that we now see the Democrats and liberals using when they have no facts to rely upon. They use deception, scare tactics, fake news and anything else they can fabricate to deflect attention away from the truth.

"My only conclusion is that this technique must have rubbed off on the Senator while he has been spending time with the liberals in Austin, trying to find ways to diffuse or frustrate the conservative agenda," Canon said.

Seliger recently told the Amarillo Globe News that there is certainly something different about this primary versus past elections.

“This election is about something different than any election before. It is not just a question of ideology — let’s elect conservatives because we have a conservative agenda. It is now — let’s elect people we can control," Seliger said.

Leal maintains that he is the best candidate and in this election to win.

"Chesterton once said 'That which is ridiculous deserves to be ridiculed.' His specious claims and bald faced lies will be ridiculed from now on.

"I've traveled around 8000 miles, given  over a hundred speeches, visited thousands of people including many students, and listed to their hopes, dreams and concerns. I have been away from my wife and business, spent my own money and am working 18 hour days.

"For Seliger to claim I don't want to win proves how low his desperation has taken him," Leal said.

Canon said it's time for Seliger to be replaced by a "true conservative."

"Our Senator has been in Austin far too long; he needs to come home for good; he needs to be replaced by a true conservative – that’s Mike Canon, the only true conservative in this race," Canon said.

While there may or may not be a direct connection between Canon, Leal, and Empower Texans, the organization has launched a direct mail campaign urging voters in the 31st District to vote against Seliger in the March 6 GOP primary.

Empower Texans has also endorsed Canon in the Texas Senate District 31 GOP primary race.

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