Jeffrey Payne

Dallas businessman Jeffery Payne on Friday, July 14, announced that he is running for governor of Texas, challenging Republican incumbent Greg Abbott, who he characterizes as a “disaster for Texans” and a governor who “offers nothing in the way of new ideas.”

“Texas needs a governor who believes in real Texas values, like integrity, honesty, freedom and independence,” Payne said in a statement announcing his candidacy. “It’s time we stopped wasting our time and money on silly legislation and start investing our time finding ways to help Texans, their families and businesses prosper.”

Payne pointed to his history of success as a businessman — from his respected court reporting firm, to his real estate dealings and his thriving nightclub, The Dallas Eagle. The candidate said he makes no secret of his active involvement in the Dallas LGBT community or his history as a former International Mr. Leather, a title that gave him a platform to promote many charity events.

He also said that his philanthropic work reflects his commitment to helping others not just in the LGBT community, but the greater Texas community, as well. He founded the Sharon St. Cyr Fund, an organization that assists people in obtaining hearing aids and provides grants for sign language interpreters at public events.

Payne, born in Maine, lost his mother when he was 3, and he spent much of his childhood in an orphanage before entering foster care at age 15. From that point on, he said, he was driven to succeed no matter what the circumstances. By age 23 he owned Payne’s Fine Jewelry, which marked the beginning of a series of successful ventures — ventures that were interrupted suddenly when Hurricane Katrina whipped out everything he had built up in New Orleans, where he lived.

Undeterred, Payne relocated to Dallas and started over again.

Payne said Texas has been good to him, and he believes it’s time he returned that good fortune. He has chosen to run for the governor’s office because he holds a strong commitment to real Texas values and truly believes he can make a positive difference in Texas politics as usual.

“It’s time we stopped letting the Republican Party run unopposed in this state,” Payne declared. “We need a governor who is not a career bureaucrat, but one with real world experience and dedication to making Texas a better, safer and healthier place for all Texans.”