After he finished fourth in the Texas Senate District 30 special election, Denton Mayor Chris Watts said he will “find a place to serve.”

“First of all, I’m just thankful that I got to know a lot of people in the district,” he said Wednesday. “It was a pleasure getting to know their needs and what is important to them.”

In unofficial results from the 14-county area that makes up the district, Republican Shelley Luther, a Denton County resident who became known for being jailed for defying Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders by opening her Dallas salon during the pandemic, received 22,135 votes (32.17%). She’s now in a runoff with state Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, who received 21,971 votes (31.93%).

Under state law, a candidate must receive just over 50% of the ballots cast to win a race. The runoff date had not been set by Wednesday afternoon.

Springer currently represents Texas House District 68. On his campaign page on Facebook, Springer said that he is “honored to have advanced to the runoff. Thank you to everyone who knocked [on] doors, made phone calls and spread the word to their friends and neighbors.”

Neither he nor Luther returned messages for comment.

“What a night!” Luther posted on her Facebook campaign page. “We are first place and heading to a runoff! Thank you to everyone! 30 days ago, I was polling at 5% of the vote and Drew Springer was a sitting state representative with a commanding lead in the polls. We won and are heading to round two.”

As for Watts, he has said he will remain mayor until voters choose his replacement on Nov. 3. Denton City Council incumbents Keely Briggs and Gerard Hudspeth and political newcomer Michael Mitchell are running for mayor.

Watts said his plans will be “like they’ve always been.”

“I will find a place to serve and help people with their concerns,” he said. “That’s what I’ve enjoyed about being mayor.”

He declined to endorse Springer or Luther for District 30.

“Obviously, the voters are going to decide that,” Watts said. “They will have some more time to look at the candidates.”

Watts said he believed his campaign “did a good job.”

“We ran with what we had, and I think we brought some issues to the forefront that we need to look at in the next legislative session,” he said.

The lone Democrat in the District 30 race, Jacob Minter, an electrician, received 14,572 votes (21.18%). He carried Denton County with 3,476 votes (41%). Watts, an attorney and real estate broker, received 1,498 votes (17.7%) in Denton County.

Also running on the Republican ticket, businessman and entrepreneur Craig Carter received 3,413 votes (4.96%) in the district race, and Andy Hopper, a software engineer and adjunct professor at the University of North Texas, received 2,432 (3.53%).

The District 30 office is being vacated by Sen. Pat Fallon, R-Prosper, who won the Republican nomination to run for U.S. House of Representatives to replace John Ratcliffe, R-Heath. Fallon is on the ballot for the Nov. 3 general election.

PAUL BRYANT can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @paulbryant_DRC.

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