TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran officially announced that he is running to fill Rep. Louie Gohmert’s seat in Congress in Tyler on Thursday.

He spoke from The Plaza in downtown at 10 a.m. and will head to Longview for a similar speech at 2 p.m.

“Today, a new adventure begins. Today, I announce my candidacy to serve Northeast Texas as its representative to the United States Congress in Texas House District Number One.”


He was joined by several community figures, including Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith, Gregg County Sheriff Maxey Cerliano and State Sen. Bryan Hughes.

“In politics, there’s workhorses and show ponies. Let me tell you, he’s a work horse,” Hughes said. “I can’t tell you how much I believe he will stand out in Congress in wonderful ways as someone who sticks to his values, moves forward, doesn’t demagogue, doesn’t try to grab headlines, just gets the work done and encourages others to come alongside while giving them the credit for it.”

In his speech, Moran praised Gohmert’s service in his time in office and thanked him for his work. Moran also recalled his life growing up in East Texas with three brothers and the roots of his values.

“I was recounting for someone the other day– they were asking how long I’d been a conservative, and I can take that back to the fourth grade when I cast my mock ballot in 1984 for President Ronald Reagan to be elected to his second term as president,” Moran said. “…Since that time, I have been an unabashed and unapologetic conservative.”

Moran was appointed in 2016 as acting Smith County Judge after the previous judge, Joel Baker, was suspended. He was elected to his first full term in 2018.

Moran served as a Tyler City Councilmember from 2005-2009, is the founder of the Whitehouse ISD Education Foundation, the President of the Discovery Science Place Board, and is involved in several other volunteer organizations.

“My life’s calling from the very beginning I knew was one of public service. I tried to undertake that service from the lens of those famous three words from General MacArthur which were ingrained in my mind almost 30 years ago as a plebe at West Point. Those three words: duty, honor and country.”

Moran explained what kind of Congressman Northeast Texas can expect him to be.

“First, a man of principal. Somebody that is unwavering in the principals that I have, rooted in that biblical perspective, that biblical worldview,” Moran said. “Second, a man of ideas– a man that’s going to build relationships and through those relationships, learn about the problems that need to be solved and to stop and listen. So much of today’s politics are driven by just wanting to talk, so few folks are willing to listen. Listening is key to building relationships.”

“I want to be a man of principle, I want to be a man of relationship, and out of those relationships and those principles and that listening, I want to be a man that comes up with good ideas to solve the problems that effect Northeast Texas and this country and this world.”

Nathaniel Moran

Moran’s campaign filed a form with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday to fill the seat in 2023 after Gohmert announced last month he would be running for Texas Attorney General.

Gohmert has held the congressional seat since 2003 and is known as one of the most conservative members in the 435-member legislative body.

“Over the past five years, I have been privileged to serve as the Smith County Judge. In this role, I’ve worked hard to support law enforcement and veterans, lower taxes, improve local elections, build roads, and put Smith County on a firm foundation for continued growth and prosperity. Serving as Judge has also provided me the opportunity to stand firm for liberty in the midst of a pandemic, work closely with counties across East Texas to support regional economic development efforts, and develop and implement thoughtful, prudent plans that make government work better for the people.”

Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran

Moran is the second Republican candidate to declare for the seat. He will be running against Aditya Atholi, a former Gohmert congressional aide.

The district the two men are looking to represent will look much different in 2023 than it currently does. Redistricting after the Census moved it much further north to the Texarkana area after it had included portions of Deep East Texas for years.

Angelina, Houston, Nacogdoches and Trinity Counties were moved to the 17th Congressional District, which includes Waco and College Station.

The Republican primary, which will very likely decide who replaces Gohmert, will be on March 1. Last year, Gohmert won the district over Democrat Hank Gilbert by 45 points.

“And today begins the new adventure, of seeking this spot to fill Louie Gohmert’s spot to hold and defend the liberties that we hold drear here in north East Texas.”

Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran