U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess faces two political newcomers in the race for the 26th Congressional District, which includes all of Denton County and some parts of Tarrant and Dallas counties.
Lewisville resident Divenchy Watrous and Highland Village resident Joel Krause are challenging Burgess in the March 4 Republican primary election. The winner will face Libertarian candidate Mark Boler in the November general election; no Democrat filed for the position.
Congressional members are paid $174,000 and serve two-year terms. Members represent their geographic districts in the U.S. House of Representatives, where they plan and pass federal legislation.
The GOP candidates agree that their top responsibilities are controling federal spending, reforming the Affordable Care Act and improving the economy.
However, each candidate has a different approach to gaining the support of voters.
Burgess, 63, of Lewisville, a former OB/GYN who has served for more than 11 years in Congress, said he wants voters to let his experience and track records speak for themselves.
“It’s important to look at the record and set politics aside,” he said. “There are big problems that face the country and they’re not going to be solved overnight. But I will be diligent and review every bill that comes across the floor and vote the way my constituents expect me to vote.”
Burgess said he agrees in the mission of the Affordable Care Act to lower the cost of health care and to provide coverage for all those who are currently uninsured, but he believes it needs to be reformed.
With a medical background, Burgess said much of his success has come from helping reform issues related to health care. He said he will continue to fight for the reforms in health care that will make it more affordable and accessible to everyone.
Krause, 55, and president of Web Electronics in Lewisville, said his 28 years of business experience give him the skills to relate to the average resident, who he says is frustrated and angry with the current administration.
He said voters need someone they can look up to and trust. He said the biggest issue facing the nation is the deficit, health care costs and federal spending.
Krause doesn’t have much experience in politics, but he said he’s always been interested in keeping up with current events and issues.
“I’m here to listen to the people,” he said. “Instead of crafting legislation behind the closed doors of Washington, we should let the people dictate how our laws are written.”
Watrous, 26, a small business CEO, said he doesn’t label himself as a politician, and has taken a few jabs at Burgess for being a part of the reason why Americans are frustrated with the president’s administration.
“I know I’m young and inexperienced, but that’s what makes me the best option,” he said. “I can show people I’m just like them and that I know what it feels like to be a struggling American.”
Watrous graduated from Guyer High School in 2007 and doesn’t have a college degree, but he says he’s self-educated and knowledgeable on government policies.
“I believe that we should be electing statesmen, not career politicians that care not for individual rights but for how much they can pad their pocketbooks,” he said.
Watrous also says he’s against any tax increases and says he will never vote for deficit spending. And like Krause, Watrous said he would work to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Both Watrous and Krause agree that it’s time for a change and that Burgess should step aside. They said a vote for Burgess is a vote for more frustration.
But Burgess argues that there’s still more work to do and over time, he’s been able to address important issues that have defined the country for the last 10 years. He said he has much success as a congressman and that his medical expertise will help address the concerns related to the Affordable Care Act.
Visit each candidate’s campaign page for more information about their platforms and experience.
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882and via Twitter at @JDHarden.
DISTRICT 26 U.S. REPRESENTATIVE
Occupation: U.S. congressman,former obstetrician/gynecologist
Background: Serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and serves as vice chairman of both the Subcommittee on Health and the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, in addition to being a member of the Energy and Power Subcommittee. He is also a member of the Rules Committee, the Republican Study Committee, the House Republican Policy Committee, the Helinski Committee, and, in 2009, founded and currently serves as Co-Chair of the Congressional Health Caucus.
Prior political history: Was elected to Congress in 2002, and has since been re-elected five times, most recently in 2012.
Top priorities in this office: Improve health care, make over-the-counter medication more affordable,address federal spending and national debt.
Joel A. Krause
Hometown: Highland Village
Occupation: A small Lewisville business owner.
Background: Has operated his own business for nearly three decades.
Prior political history: None.
Top priorities inthis office: Address the national debt, reduce the influence of lobbyists,defend the U.S. Constitution and work to encourage more civic engagement whendrafting legislation.
Occupation: CEO of a small business in DFW for the past three years.
Background: Has attended and volunteered at a few Republican-sponsored events.
Prior political history: None.
Top priorities in this office: Audit the federal government, repeal the Affordable Care Act, endf ederal income tax, reduce taxes for all people, balance the federal budget,reduce national debt and serve one term.