U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess has been in this position before, spearheading a re-election bid, facing challengers and hoping the voters of District 26 will trust him for another two years in Washington.
Burgess faces opposition from Democratic candidate David Sanchez and Libertarian Mark Boler in the November general election.
Boler, who ran unsuccessfully for the same seat in 2010, said he will keep trying until things change.
“I think basically the two other parties, they should just merge themselves together and call themselves the Republicrats because they want the same things in so many ways,” Boler said.
Among his priority concerns are getting the government off the people’s backs and stopping all wars unless they are necessary.
“I don’t think we should be in seven different countries dropping drone strikes on every single country we think has someone who doesn’t like us,” he said.
Boler said being a computer scientist for most of his life has given him the tools to help state officials get things done.
“In those kind of realms, we deal with facts and figures instead of what feels good,” he said.
Boler said most politicians seem to think whenever there is a problem, they should create another bureaucracy to handle it, and he opposes that.
Asked about his chances for victory, Boler noted that the districts themselves are changing.
“The boundary of the 26th district is changing. We’re not even sure what it will look like in the future,” he said. “I think people are getting really tired — whether Democrat or Republican in power, the end result seems to be the same. More government, more government intrusion, more laws. I don’t see it changing until we wake up and say ‘let’s change it.’”
Sanchez, an active Democrat in Denton County, said he did not see anyone else who wanted to step forward to challenge the incumbent for this term and decided to do it himself.
“To make a change in the community we need to have better representation, someone willing to compromise and reach across party lines,” he said.
Some of the major issues, as Sanchez sees them, are fairness and everyone having a fair share with taxation, equality and education.
“With more education, more employers will hire an educated workforce,” he said. “I want to lower congressional and senatorial salaries. You shouldn’t be making more than twice the average income. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but if you invest it in teachers, Pell grants … I think it’s something both parties can come together on.”
Sanchez said there should be Democrats and Republicans in the House who will vote on what their districts want, to see what’s best for the people and vote that way.
Sanchez said that ultimately, the important thing is getting more people to vote, be it the youths or older voters who just aren’t targeted in elections.
“I’m not in it for the money or power, just to represent people,” he said. “People get in and want to stay in as long as possible. For me, it wouldn’t be an issue.”
After a decade of service, Burgess said his work is not done.
“When I first ran in 2002, I would have never believed the enormous mess that has been made of health care policy,” he said. “Regardless of who wins the election, those of us who care about health policy in the House are going to be required to make sense of the landscape going forward.”
Health care policy — including its effects at the national level and the uncertainty cities, counties and small businesses have about the law — remains Burgess’ top priority.
And in Denton County, Burgess said transportation issues continue to be a significant problem.
“We all have to make do with less and that will continue with transportation dollars,” he said.
Though he has been up for re-election before and came out on top, Burgess said he is not assuming anything.
“Everyone knows the makeup of the district and redistricting changes some things,” he said. “The partisan favorability is clearly slanted toward the Republican Party, but it’s never a good idea to just assume things or presume an advantage when you’re dealing with something as uncertain as a popular election.”
Early voting in the general election begins Monday.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Born in: Topeka, Kan.
Education: studied electronic engineering in college
Experience: held positions in computer science industry for the last 30 years, ran his own software business, 2003-06
Born in: Rochester, Minn.
Education: Bachelor’s degree, 1972, and master’s degree, 1975, University of North Texas; M.D., University of Texas Medical School at Houston, 1977; residency at Parkland hospital, 1981; master’s degree in medical management, University of Texas at Dallas, 2000
Born in: Harlingen
Education: bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and minor in business law, University of North Texas, 2007
Experience: travel agent with AAA Texas, 2009-present