One woman and seven men are seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. House of Representatives District 5, replacing Jeb Hensarling who is leaving Congress after eight terms.
The winner, virtually certain to be determined in a runoff in May, will then face Democrat Dan Wood in the November general election.
All eight attended a forum put on by the Kaufman County Republican Party last week in Kaufman, ahead of the March 6 primary.
Each had a chance to make an opening statement, then each took turns answering questions, followed by closing remarks.
Questions included whether they would have supported the recent federal budget deal and their position on recent immigration issues.
The debt question yielded answers on both sides.
Danny Campbell said he would have supported the deal because it was the right thing to do, and it will grow the economy.
Lance Gooden said he would not have supported a budget deal that grows the debt and would support a balanced budget amendment similar to what Texas has.
David Williams said every issue must be voted on by the individual. The increased spending is an investment that will pay off in the future.
Sam Deen said he would have opposed it as it adds a trillion dollars to the deficit. Such debt is dangerous and would lead to the inability to fund the military.
Kenneth Sheets said the real question is “What the heck are we doing?” He noted Congress has not passed a budget since 2010. Mandatory spending must be brought under control.
Bunni Pounds said the deal raised spending caps, and she would not have voted for it. The country needs to be kept on a fiscally responsible spending path.
Jason Wright said the deal is exactly why citizens should be furious with Congressional leadership. Texas senators were trapped into voting for the bill as it contained Hurricane Harvey relief.
Charles Lingerfelt said he opposed it. “I don’t believe in spending money you don’t have,” he said, “or borrowing from the Chinese to pay the interest.”
Federal departments need to be cut 10 to 15 percent, he said.
On the immigration question, the candidate responses were fairly similar.
Sheets said he had dealt with border security during his career, including gunboats on the Rio Grande, because the federal government wouldn’t do it.
Pounds said she is for the border wall. The constitution calls for defending the country, which includes keeping out drugs and terrorists. She said no (immigrants) should skip the line.
Wright said the border must be secured and the wall built. The rule of law is one reason why people want to come here. He said, “The dreams of your children and my children means more than those who are here unlawfully.”
Deen said he is for securing the border at all costs. Amnesty is not fair to legal immigrants.
Williams noted that it is an old problem left for President Trump to clean up.
Gooden said that all the candidates are pretty much on the same page in supporting a border wall, opposing amnesty and chain migration. He noted his work in the state legislature on passing the sanctuary cities bill.
Campbell said that the southern border needs to be secured, but spending money on a wall is irresponsible.
In his introduction, Campbell said he is tired of the same old politics. He said he is an outsider and stands for the Constitution. This marks his first political race.
Gooden said he wants to continue his effective record of legislation in Washington, which is a city that it broken and where nothing gets done.
He said it is important to have a rural candidate in the race, someone from the area, and said only three of the candidates lived in the district until Hensarling’s announcement, though one has moved into it. Residency is not a requirement to run for the Congressional seat. The others are Sheets and Deen.
Williams said he is a limited government conservative in his first race. He said he has a hay farm in Henderson County in the district, but his wife wanted to live in Tyler.
Deen said he signed up to be an Army ranger following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and his last political appointment was as Canton student body president. He said classmates drafted him to run.
Sheets, with three terms in the state legislature, said President Trump needs help to turn Washington around, and lessons from Austin should be taken to Washington.
Pounds, who worked for a consulted with Hensarling’s campaigns, said she started her consulting firm to help the conservative movement. She is for keeping the deficit down and defending the military.
Wright said he is a fifth generation East Texan who twice turned down calls to run before he realized those most disappointed were his daughters.
Lingerfelt said he bleeds red, white and blue and has served the Lord since he was 14. He said he puts God first, family second and country third.
The four pillars of his campaign are experience, maturity, honest and integrity.