After nobody under the age of 30 was elected into the 85th Legislative Session for the Texas House of Representatives, Richard Wolf, a 23-year-old college dropout with an affinity for politics and change will be running for the 63rd District seat.
Filing the day before the deadline on Dec. 10, Wolf said at the time there were no Democrats registered to run for the 63rd District. The Democratic party saw an opportunity for a few seats and were interested in running candidates.
“There was a lot of activity within the [Democratic] Party…and they wanted someone on the ballot,” Wolf said. “I thought to myself, ‘you know what, I think I can probably do it.’ I just sort of went for it.”
A resident of Flower Mound, Wolf said another aspect that inspired him to run was the special election in Alabama between Roy Moore (R) and Doug Jones (D) for a U.S. Senate seat, which took place the day after the deadline for filing. Jones defeated Moore by a margin of over 1.5 percent.
It was the controversy that followed Moore’s campaign, which involved allegations that he made sexual advances towards teenagers, that got Wolf thinking about what he called the rules of politics and who can run for office.
“I was thinking literally anybody can run,” Wolf said. “Even somebody who’s a 23-year-old college dropout.”
With no former political experience, Wolf said he makes up for it with an interest in politics that has involved over half a decade of reading and researching about policy and law. He claims to be well-versed in the fields.
“I am a horrible nerd,” Wolf said. “[Researching] has been my main hobby for years … I believe when people talk to me and I’m able to talk about my goals…usually they walk away thinking I know what I’m talking about.”
The main issue Wolf said he is focusing on is the immigrants impacted by the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). He also wants to make changes to the taxing system, education funding and work towards marijuana decriminalization.
Redistricting, or gerrymandering, is another issue he’s passionate about and described it in its current form as unconstitutional.
“There is sort of an inherent desire for politicians to protect themselves when it comes to redistricting,” Wolf said. “Taking it out of their hands is important.”
Despite filing at the last minute, Wolf said he has had an interest in politics dating back to middle school and high school, where he was on the debate team and involved in online communities where politics were a primary discussion.
Having attended UNT from 2012 to 2016, Wolf majored in English education with hopes of becoming a high school teacher. He also pursued a degree in social work with a goal to obtain a masters in public administration.
Wolf said he dropped out due to his struggle with severe clinical depression, saying things were not going well and college didn’t seem like the right place for him to be.
He added he’d be happy to eventually return to finish his degree when the time is right but is in no rush.
Describing himself as having a “strong left” view on politics, Wolf said he was aggressively left and not afraid to call himself a socialist. He has been trying to get involved in the Denton chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.
“I’m sort of unabashed about presenting the leftist views that people would not really expect from a Texas politician,” Wolf said.
On the other side of the aisle sits current incumbent Tan Parker, who Wolf called a “very civil Republican politician.” After going through his record though, Wolf saw what he detailed as activity slowly dragging Texas towards the right and further away from the people living in the state.
“Looking at his legislative record, you see little bits and pieces slowly biting away at things such as public schools, labor protections and protections for unions,” he said. “All sorts of little incremental changes.”
Wolf also believes Parker has not expressed desire to bring change.
“He’s extremely comfortable with the status quo,” Wolf said. “Even though the status quo seems to be unconstitutional gerrymandering and suppressing voters in the state of Texas.”
Enter the Democrats, who Wolf described as having a weak, non-aggressive platform that has not been very involved regarding representation in the state for the past six years. Though, since the election of President Donald Trump, Wolf believes there has been a backlash against the extreme right-wing.
This has led to more work and interaction with the Denton County Democratic Party, which he called positive and inspiring. He is seeing engagement across the board and people responding positively to the message.
To add to this engagement, Wolf said he would be interested in keeping in contact with constituents by making himself available online. He thinks this method is good for communication and helps transparency. In addition, he wants to hold town hall meetings regularly.
“People are more ready now than ever for a leftist message, for progressive politics,” Wolf said. “Things that seemed impossible before are no longer impossible.”
Wolf will face off against Laura Haines in the primaries. The winner will face Parker in the general election in November.
You can learn more about Wolf’s campaign or get in contact with him by visiting his Facebook page.