Many Hood County residents are left flabbergasted after multiple attempts to file their paperwork for the upcoming primary election have remained unsuccessful.
Filing for the March primary elections officially opened on Nov. 11, but several candidates have reached a blockade while trying to file due to the current Republican Party of Hood County Chair Steve Biggers allegedly being unavailable due to a family emergency.
Currently, a sign is posted on the front doors of the Republican Party of Hood County headquarters located at 1315 Waters Edge Drive, Suite 116 stating, “Nobody from the Hood County Republican Executive Committee is here at this time to accept paperwork for placement on the 2024 Republican Primary Ballot. Please call Hood County Republican Party Chair Steve Biggers to schedule an appointment.”
However, according to candidates Bradley Yarborough, Zachary Maxwell, and Michael Ray Davis along with several others, they have been unable to reach Biggers to schedule a time for them to drop off their applications.
"I'm running for Republican Party Chairman of Hood County, and we have made many, many attempts,” Maxwell said, speaking for the other candidates who have yet to file. “We have called every single day since filing has been open. There's been many of us that have been sitting: a commissioner candidate, a JP, many precinct chair candidates that are trying to file, the sheriff is trying to file (and we have been unable to).”
Bret Deason, chairman of the United Republicans of Hood County, sent an email to Hood County Election Administrator Stephanie Cooper, explaining that he had received “multiple complaints from citizens” who are wishing to file the paperwork for the upcoming primary elections and had continued to reach a voicemail at the Hood County Republican Party headquarters.
“It is the responsibility of Chairman Biggers to appoint someone to receive these applications if he is not available,” Deason’s email reads. “We even have existing elected officials that are wanting to file for re- election and are not receiving call backs from the chairman. Given the chairman's unprofessional behavior leading up to this point, it is highly suspect that this is happening.”
Cooper emailed back and explained that “state law does not allow her office to resolve the situation.”
Chris Davis, Hood County Republican Party secretary, replied back to Deason, explaining that she spoke to Biggers on Wednesday and that he would be posting on the Republican Party Facebook page when he will be able to be in the office each week between the filing period. She explained that candidates who are unable to reach him will be able to email Davis herself to set up appointments to come in and file for office.
“Chairman Biggers is doing all he can within the constraints of his busy life and work to make the filing process run smoothly and efficiently. I am sure you can understand and appreciate that,” Davis said.
Following more back and forth responses, with Maxwell joining in, Davis sent an email to Maxwell Thursday afternoon explaining that Biggers would be “happy to take care of your application for you.”
Maxwell immediately sent a response back saying the only reply back he had heard from Biggers was that he “wasn’t allowed to contact him.”
“So please advise on how and when that is supposed to occur?” Maxwell stated in the email. “Put yourself in my shoes. I have been nothing but respectful.”
The Republican Party of Hood County Facebook page issued a statement the night of Wednesday, Nov. 15, stating that six applications have already been received and were in the process of being reviewed.
“I know for a fact that Steve Biggers personally went into County Attorney Matt Mills office today to pick up his application for reelection,” Maxwell said. “I messaged Matt Mills and called him and he confirmed via phone and on messenger that that was what Steve was doing there was to hand pick up his application for reelection, yet, none of us have been able to file so only his handpicked people are allowed to file, but we can't file yet.”
The post states that any candidates wishing to participate in the GOP 2024 primary need to call the Republican Party of Hood County at 682-389-7284 and set an appointment. All appointments are set up for a Wednesday afternoon submission.
According to the post, time slots for Wednesday, Nov. 22 are 95% full and the Republican Party of Hood County is currently setting times for Wednesday, Nov. 29.
“It sounds like based on the Facebook posts that it's taking some time to approve the applications because he said that people have filed and they're awaiting approval,” Maxwell said. “It shouldn't take more than two seconds to get approved because he can't actually deny an application unless there's a big glaring error on the application, like if your name was misspelled, or if you didn't check a particular box; that's the only thing that you can deny somebody's application for, statutorily by law. But by law, he also has to make himself available, or appoint a designee or have the Republican Party Secretary —whom he appoints — receive, accept, and approve our applications, and he has not done any of those things. He's making it very difficult.”
Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds told the HCN via text that Biggers sent him a text on Tuesday, Nov. 14, explaining that he was currently not in Granbury.
“I am traveling out of state,” the text read. “Parents medical legal stuff. Will contact when available.”
Deeds said he is still waiting for a response and has called the number posted on the door and even left messages two times — the last one being 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 16 — but no luck.
“The rhetoric issued by the Republican Party Chairman Steve Biggers is another example of an attempt to undermine democracy by suppressing several citizens’ right to run for public office,” Yarborough said in a text to the HCN.
Although several candidates have been unable to get in contact with Biggers, Texas Election Code Sec. 172.022(b) states that an application for a place on the general primary election ballot must be filed “not later than the day before the last day of the filing period,” — which would be Sunday, Dec. 10, as the filing period will end on Monday, Dec. 11.
“What happened to the days of being able to disagree with somebody and being able to just live?” Maxwell added. “This is not Republican. It's certainly un-American. It's certainly not Texan, and it's an embarrassment to our community.”
This is a developing story and the HCN will continue to provide updates as they become available.