Three of Texas’ seven U.S. House committee chairman are facing primary challenges from the right wing of the Republican Party. Other Texas Republican House members are also facing serious challengers.
The newly selected House Ways and Means chair, Kevin Brady, Rules Committee chair Pete Sessions and Science Space and Technology chair Lamar Smith all have primary opponents who are challenging their conservative credentials, The Hill reported. Other representatives from the Lone Star State are also having to hit the campaign trail, some for the first time in many years. Those include, Bill Flores who serves as chair of the Republican Study Committee, 16-term Joe Barton, the seasoned Texas veteran, 85-year-old Sam Johnson, John Culberson and even Tea Party favorite Louie Gohmert.
While The Hill reports that all of the incumbents are likely to be re-elected, even in this year of Washington outsiders dominating the presidential candidate fields of both parties, it is obvious by the campaign efforts of many of these men they are taking the challenges very seriously.
Many candidates are going well beyond the normal yard-sign style of campaigns by attending numerous Republican and Tea Party club events, running radio and print advertising, doing mailers and making multiple personal appearances across their districts.
In what has been seen by many as an unusual sign, the Kingwood Tea Party has departed from the normal “anti-outsider” stand of many Tea Party groups by endorsing three incumbent representatives in the Houston area. Those are Kevin Brady, John Culberson and Ted Poe.
Kingwood Tea Party founder Robin Lennon told Breitbart Texas at one of their scheduled meetings last week how their endorsement process worked. She said they have a committee of fifteen people who sit on their endorsement committee. They actually have the candidates come in and interview with the members.
Lennon told Breitbart Texas that most, if not all, of her committee members were pre-disposed initially to endorse one of the challengers in the Brady race. After interviewing all of the candidates, the vote came to a surprising 15-0 in favor of Brady.
Lamar Smith’s challenger, Matt McCall told The Hill he believes he is gaining ground on the San Antonio congressman who was first elected when Ronald Reagan was president. In 2014, he managed only 34 percent of the vote. This year, he hopes to force Smith into an expensive and time-consuming runoff.
McCall accused Smith of not making any progress on immigration and the border. “It’s not a fight Lamar’s been picking with the president over the border. It’s a tango. It’s a dance,” McCall told The Hill. “If we’re really fighting, we should say we’re going to shut down the government, we’re going to impeach the president.”
Smith’s spokesman countered with what many believe to be the strong anti-immigrant record the incumbent has amassed. “Lamar Smith is the author of the strongest immigration enforcement legislation to become law in recent history, has championed the expansion of E-Verify, and has fought the erosion of our immigration laws by this administration tooth and nail.”
Flores, who was swept in during a Tea Party wave in 2010 is being challenged on his votes for trillion dollar spending bills, as are Brady and Sessions. Sessions has also had to fade the heat for his connections to former House Speaker John Boehner.
One of Sessions’ rivals, Russ Ramsland has received endorsements from Citizens United and the Tea Party Patriots, according to The Hill.
While the incumbents all appear confident in their return to the nation’s capitol, they are not taking any chances. The Hill reported Flores and Sessions have both been seen out in their districts during the recent Presidents Day holiday.
“In this unpredictable political climate, anyone who doesn’t take every primary challenge seriously is at risk,” Brady campaign manager Francine Stanfield told The Hill.
Lana Shadwick is a writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and associate judge in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2
Bob Price is a senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. He is also a Life Member of the NRA. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.