For the office of United States representative from the 17th District of Texas, the Optimist endorses Democratic incumbent Charlie Stenholm.
Stenholm has been competently representing West Texas in Washington, D.C., since 1978, and the experience and influence he has is unsurpassable.
As head Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, Stenholm has a powerful and respected voice in Congress that would be sorely missed here should he be defeated.
This is not to detract from Rob Beckham, who indeed is on the right track when he raises concerns about Stenholm’s voting record on taxes. But aside from tax cuts, the two are nearly identical-except that one will more easily make West Texas interests a part of national legislation.
Beckham would be a better choice if Stenholm were less experienced or more liberal. However, the incumbent is already providing a conservative, albeit Democratic, voice that accurately reflects this region’s beliefs and interests. Losing Stenholm’s influence is too great a risk to West Texas.
For the office of United States senator from Texas, the Optimist endorses Republican John Cornyn.
Democrat Ron Kirk, the former Dallas mayor, has given Abilenians a laundry list of reasons to keep Phil Gramm’s seat in the hands of the GOP.
Kirk left behind a Dallas school system in shambles, and his opposition to school vouchers will only exacerbate Texas’ current inner-city education problems.
Kirk came through West Texas for a few hours once, maybe. His campaign has been based out of Dallas, has been run east of Austin and has been populated by out-of-state, big-name liberals. Kirk has made it clear he has no interest in more than three-fourths of the state he is supposed to be representing.
Whether Kirk would actually fight for Texas interests is questionable, considering he seems to be better pals with East Coast idealogues than with Texas farmers, businessmen or homeowners.
The race for Senate is not so much about electing John Cornyn because he’ll be a good senator. It’s about keeping Kirk out of office for the sake of Texas and the Big Country.