Texas’ rush to the right comes home in Johnson County House campaign

Posted Thursday, Sep. 12, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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kennedy Texas has “out-of-control spending”?

Our businesses face a “regulatory burden”?

All noncitizens, even those here legally, should be denied benefits?

That’s how the only candidate for Texas House District 58 sees it.

For now, Clifton Republican Philip Eby is the sole candidate in the race to succeed retiring Rep. Rob Orr, R-Burleson, always loyally conservative but not enough to satisfy increasingly libertarian Texas Republicans.

“The increase in spending in Texas is just astronomical,” said Eby, 29, a concrete contractor and former Ron Paul national convention delegate.

Really?

Does the driver’s license office look too lavish? Are our state parks just too lush? Does Texas really spend way too much on roads, water and schools?

“There’s a lot of areas where a lot of money is wasted,” Eby said by phone Tuesday in his new role as the front-runner to join other thrift-minded conservatives from Tarrant County in the next House.

“I consider myself to be a conservative and an individualist,” he said, stopping himself midword from saying “Republican.”

“I think there’s a movement among young people to get back to principles of individual liberty,” he said.

“This generation is leaving a massive amount of debt.”

Eby’s campaign website is definitely lean.

He focuses on gun rights (“Washington, Your Not Taking Our Guns”) and abortion, quoting Proverbs 6:16-17 in a red typeface about “hands that shed innocent blood.”

At 19, we learn, Eby drove cross-country to protest abortion in North Carolina. He is endorsed by the Rev. Rusty Thomas of controversial North Carolina-based Operation Save America (formerly Operation Rescue).

Eby called Orr a “nice guy” but said he should have opposed the state budget approved by the Legislature in May.

Orr won re-election in 2010 over Cleburne Republican Ted Reynolds, a former mayor.

Reynolds said he is “definitely interested” in running again.

“I’m very much a fiscal conservative,” Reynolds said, “but I thought Rob really went too far. We didn’t get help we needed in Johnson County.”

The last three District 58 winners were Republicans from Burleson, 65 miles north of Clifton.

“Clifton’s a great place, but I think the district centers more on Johnson County,” Reynolds said.

He’s taking a risk just using the word center.

Bud Kennedy’s column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538 Twitter: @BudKennedy

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