Until just a few years ago, the 25th Congressional District was Democratic territory.
Then in 2011, redistricting flipped the district from Democratic-leaning to Republican-leaning, prompting U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, to switch to a different district for his re-election bid, and opening the door for longtime local car dealer Roger Williams to run for — and win — that seat.
Now Williams says he wants to serve a second term representing the district that stretches from the edges of Tarrant County to the Hill Country.
“I’m running for Congress to continue the fight to stop the destruction that the Obama Administration has caused our country,” said Williams, R-Austin. “The president continues to grow the size and scope of government, erode our Constitutional rights and send our country further into debt.”
Democrat Marco Montoya believes voters should send him to Washington instead of Williams.
“I am running because our government should not be shut down, our nation’s credit should not be questioned and healthcare for women, seniors and veterans should be available as needed,” the Austin man said.
And Libertarian Jack Betz said he’s actually the right person to represent the district.
“I am running to give the people an alternative to the business-as-usual candidates,” the Fort Worth man said. “I am not a professional politician and have no wish to kiss anything.”
The three will compete Nov. 4 for this district that is home to the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant near Glen Rose, Fort Hood near Killeen, the University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Capitol.
While the district draws its biggest population base from the Austin area, it still includes thousands of residents in Johnson and Tarrant counties.
At stake is a two-year term that pays $174,000 a year. Early voting runs Oct. 20-31.
When Williams, 65, was growing up, his father, Jack, was a well-known Chevrolet dealer in Tarrant County. Roger Williams went on to make his own mark as a car dealer — as well as serving as Texas secretary of state — and became instrumental in the Texas Republican Party along the way.
Through the years, he became a powerhouse raising money for GOP candidates, including George W. Bush in his campaigns for governor and president. He played baseball at TCU from 1968 to 1971, then played in the Atlanta Braves farm system before returning to TCU as a baseball coach. He became head coach in 1975 but resigned the next year to devote more time to his family’s auto dealership.
Williams, who has homes in Weatherford and Austin, jumped into this race and won the post in 2012.
“As a principled conservative Republican with more than 40 years of small business experience, I understand the struggles that Texans and all Americans are going through in the current economy and I have a plan to fix it,” he said. “Since coming to Congress in 2013, I have stood by my principles, voted the values of my district and have held President Obama’s feet to the fire on issues that matter most to Texas.”
He said his top priorities are to bolster the economy, secure the border and defend Constitutional rights.
But the main issues in this race, he said, are “our struggling economy and the threat of radical Islamic terrorists in the Middle East, which the president says he doesn’t have a strategy for battling.”
Between April and June, he raised more than $220,000, and he has more than $675,000 in cash on hand, according to Federal Election Commission reports.
Montoya, 69, is a self-employed consultant who is retired from the Army.
“I am very much concerned that we have not been represented in Washington, in part, because our current representative lives outside our thirteen counties,” he said.
“I want to take a bipartisan approach to Washington to engage my fellow representatives in Congress to form a more perfect Union, improve our economy and provide job growth and training to better provide our children an education that prepares them for the future.”
He said his top priorities, if elected, are jobs and the economy. But the main issues in this race are water, economic development and infrastructure.
“Right now, one in three Texas roads [is] in poor condition and one in five bridges are deficient or obsolete,” he said. “Our infrastructure needs repairs and maintenance now when it can be dealt with, not when we can’t afford it.”
Montoya raised $77,000 between July and September and has $8,268 in the bank, federal reports show.
“I put integrity and honesty first in my life and will post my daily schedule on the Internet so my friends and neighbors in District 25 know how I am representing them since I live, vote and work in the district and want to make our nation a ‘more perfect union,’ ” he said. “To me, going to Washington means I represent not just Democrats, but also my Republican neighbors.”
Betz, a 55-year-old delivery driver, said he has one key goal if elected.
“To disassemble and work at dismantling the dammed bureaucracy that is strangling the nation,” he said. “I quote Mr. Reagan: ‘Government is not the solution to your problems, government is the problem.’
“As a libertarian, I believe the government has no business in half of the things it is doing,” he said. “The declaration said the pursuit of happiness. It didn’t say you catch it.”
This isn‘t Betz’s first bid for public office.
He unsuccessfully ran for state Senate District 12 in 2012, drawing 16.5 percent of the vote against longtime state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound.
“I will be the first one to admit that I am mostly a name on the ballot, someone to fill a slot and help the party grow,” Betz said. “I have learned I cannot run an active campaign by myself, in particular while holding a full-time job.”
No federal campaign finance report was available for Betz online.
“My solitary nature means it has been very difficult to find help,” he said. “I don’t expect to win this election, but there will be another day.”
A QUICK LOOK AT THE CANDIDATES
Roger Williams, Republican
Occupation: Member of the U.S. House
Marco Montoya, Democrat
Occupation: Active-duty retiree/self-employed consultant
John Betz, Libertarian
Occupation: Delivery driver
Residence: Fort Worth
Contact: email, jjbetZ@swbell.net