Jeffrey Payne made his formal announcement that he will run for Texas governor at a press conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dallas on Saturday, Oct. 7.

“People are looking for a leader,” Payne said, explaining his decision to run.

In an interview at the hotel before Payne went on stage to make his formal announcement, he told Dallas Voice he’s been planning this run for governor for quite some time.

“My husband Sergio and I decided we’d do this in four years,” he said. “Then November happened.”

He followed the regular session of the Texas Legislature and then the special session and decided to push up his plans by four years.

Today (Monday, Oct. 9), Payne’s campaign office opens at 6510 Abrams Road. His campaign staff will be housed there. Tomorrow (Tuesday, Oct. 10), Payne hits the road.

He said he’s planning to tour Texas “city to city and town to town, red and blue.”

He’ll be on the road non-stop through Thanksgiving, take a few day’s break over Christmas, then get back on the road until the March primary.

“People are looking for a leader,” he said. “They want solutions and are tired of being divided.”

His approach is to work with people with opposing ideas to come up with answers that are best for Texas.

“No single person has solutions to all problems,” he said.

On social issues, Payne said he’s very liberal, but “When it comes to fiscal issues, I’m quite conservative. We have to be fiscally responsible.”

In his speech on Saturday, Payne said, “Our government needs a return to real Texas values.”

He called Texas a “big, wonderful family. A family who welcomed me in when I moved here after Hurricane Katrina.”

Payne was born in Maine and was sent to an orphanage in Louisiana after his mother died when he was three. After losing everything in Hurricane Katrina, he moved to Dallas in 2005, where he’s become a successful businessman.

At his kickoff rally, Payne addressed a number of issues, criticizing Gov. Greg Abbott and his policies.

“Mr. Abbott cannot say he values women when we have the highest rate of maternal mortality in our country and higher than any other developed country in the world,” Payne said. “Newsflash governor, it’s happening because we don’t have leadership and common sense coming from your office.”

Payne is calling for a complete overhaul of school finance system and funding for transportation.

On Second Amendment rights, Payne said he upholds and supports them “wholeheartedly. As Texans, we need to design policies regarding the education and promotion of gun safety.”

He called gerrymandering “a poison in our political process that has caused increased corruption in both Texas and the United States,” and called on an independent commission with no political ties to use software to create districts.

Payne said he is financing his campaign personally. Since he filed his candidacy over the summer, he said, contributions to his campaign have increased steadily. But he is not accepting PAC or special interest money.

Since filing, Payne has been putting his campaign staff together.

The state Democratic Party has barely acknowledged that Payne has filed and hasn’t returned calls about his campaign. The party is actively looking for a well-known name to run for governor, with less than six months to go before the primary.

Payne knows he needs to increase his name recognition and his campaign swing around the state is designed to do that. But he is confident, answering many questions with, “When we win the primary in March,” and “When we win the election in November.”

— David Taffet