Open Carry Texas founder CJ Grisham may challenge incumbent state Rep. Hugh Shine, who is seeking re-election, in next year’s Republican primary.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Grisham told followers of his page about his potential run for the House District 55 seat, saying he is considering a run against Shine, who he described as a “Democrat in Republican clothing.”
Grisham, a retired Army first sergeant, echoed a similar sentiment during an interview with the Temple Daily Telegram on Friday.
Grisham said he wants to spark a conversation on what he describes as Shine’s “liberal” and “big government” voting record.
“Frankly, I’m a little disappointed that nobody is challenging him on his liberal record in the House and I think he needs to answer for that,” Grisham said. “If a better alternative doesn’t come along then I am going to run against him. I’m going to force that conversation and force him to defend his record this session.”
Grisham said Shine did not support legislation that would have allowed Texans to carry a gun without a permit. The Temple legislator did in fact support House Bill 1911, which would have allowed for permitless carry, and was a coauthor of the bill. HB 1911 died in committee.
The Open Carry Texas founder also pointed to Shine’s support of the so-called bathroom bill that would have required students to use the restroom based on their “biological sex.” During the regular session Shine voted in favor of the House amending a school-related bill to add bathroom restrictions.
“This bathroom bill was nonsense,” said Grisham, who lists on Facebook his personal interests as liberty, freedom, constitutionalism and smaller government. “I don’t think the government needs to be telling people where to go to the bathroom. I don’t understand how that’s a conservative or liberal issue, it’s a statist issue in my mind.”
Shine said he is proud of his record and is ready to defend it during the election.
“I represented the district,” the Temple lawmaker said. “I took care of lots of issue that were important to the state and to Central Texas so I have no concerns at all about my conservative, pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, conservative Christian record.”
Often, Shine said, people considering a run for elected office will make their final decision during the candidate filing period. Candidates for the 2018 election can file their candidacies beginning Nov. 11 through Dec. 11.
“When we make our announcement official ... at that point in time we will talk about all the issues that I was either author, joint author or co-sponsor of that were very important issues that were very conservative,” Shine said.
Shine plans to officially announce his re-election bid later this month or when he files.
This is not Grisham’s first flirtation with running for the Legislature.
In 2015 when then-state Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, announced he would not seek re-election, Grisham decided to seek the seat — along with six other Republicans.
The activist would later rescind his campaign, endorsing conservative Brent Mayes for the seat.. Mayes placed fourth in the Republican primary. Austin ophthalmologist Dawn Buckingham would go on to win the GOP nomination and the Senate District 24 seat in November.
Grisham made headlines in 2013 when during a walk with his son, he was arrested by the Temple Police Department. During the hike, Grisham was lawfully carrying an AR-15 and a concealed handgun, both of which would be seized when he was arrested.
Grisham was convicted of interfering with police duties. He was fined $2,000 and paid it all in nickels as a slight to Bell County Attorney Jim Nichols.
The arrest spurred Grisham to found Open Carry Texas.
After nearly four years, Grisham’s weapons were returned to him in July.
More recently in September, Grisham led a demonstration in support of the Confederate soldier statue located on the grounds of the Bell County Courthouse in Belton.