Tablet Opinion

Invading Mexico is not a good plan: Arlington voters in House District 94 race should reject Republican candidate’s extreme views

By the numbers, the District 94 Texas House race in Arlington should go to the Republican, just as it has for at least three decades.

Maybe not this year — or at least, it shouldn’t. That’s because Republicans in their March primary handed the District 94 nomination to an extremist who, among other things, wants to send U.S. troops across the border into Mexico to stop illegal immigration by armed force.

“It’s really sad to say that at some point what’s going to happen on the border is going to be bad,” GOP nominee Tony Tinderholt told a group in a videotaped talk this summer. His talk was reported by The Texas Observer.

“And people are going to die,” he said. “And it’s a sad, sad thing to say. But it’s the only thing that’s going to stop this infiltration into our country.”

Tinderholt, 44, director of training and recruiting for Eliot Management Group, is a 21-year military veteran whose website says his experience includes “taking part in counter drug missions across South and Central America.”

He should be proud of his service. His country should be proud and thankful.

That doesn’t mean District 94 voters should adopt his views or send him to Austin to push them in the House of Representatives. They should reject those views.

“I think we should go across the border and stop it. I think we should shut money off across the border,” Tinderholt said of his long-term immigration plan.

“But I’ll tell you in the short term, we gotta put our military at the border and stop this crap from happening now,” he said. “But we can’t have our military men and women standing at the border with their weapons hugging drug cartels coming across, because they don’t like hugs. They use chain saws, we use guns.”

There are plenty of good arguments for securing the border and cutting illegal immigration as much as possible. A thirst for military confrontation is not one of them.

What’s really sad is that to secure the nomination Tinderholt booted out four-term GOP Rep. Diane Patrick, a long-time public servant who was clearly dedicated to District 94’s best interests.

Patrick was not extreme enough in her views to satisfy Republican primary voters. She got caught up in the rush to brand everyone in her party a “RINO” (Republican In Name Only) unless they follow the dictates of a small cadre of influence peddlers and special-interest donors.

But the primary voters spoke. Tinderholt won 55 percent of the District 94 ballots cast in the GOP race.

Now those voters must re-examine their choice.

Their best option is Democrat Cole Ballweg, 36, an Arlington-area native and founder of a medium-sized healthcare business.

Also on the ballot is Robert Harris, a Libertarian.

Like Tinderholt, Ballweg has no experience in public office. Yet his entrepreneurial background should draw respect from Republicans and Democrats alike. He describes himself as a “pro-business Democrat.”

He started Vivicare Health Partners in 2009 to provide home nursing to medically fragile and terminally ill children.

He downplays party affiliation, saying “community identity is stronger than party identity.”

Still, he’s a Democrat, so his views on some issues will cause some Republicans to swallow hard. At least they’re not invade-Mexico views.

He wouldn’t end abortion, but he favors the 20-week ban included in the abortion-restriction law passed by the Legislature last year. The best thing to do, he says, is to “make sure women have access to effective birth control.”

Ballweg says the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is “not the law I would have written,” but Texas should take advantage of federal funding to expand Medicaid (“bring my money back to Texas” and “make it work for small business”).

He’s a fan of “good charter schools” but opposes private school vouchers.

Noting that a state district judge in Austin in late August declared the state’s public school finance system unconstitutional, he said the Legislature should re-examine its formulas to provide adequate and equitable funding to school districts.

He wants to see the motor fuel tax indexed to inflation so it will provide more money for roads.

He pushes for water conservation and wants water pricing to “reflect the true cost of water” so drilling companies will have more incentive to recycle water used in hydraulic fracturing.

He says the state should have a law requiring equal pay for equal work. The Legislature passed such a law last year but Gov. Rick Perry vetoed it.

And he says business recruitment efforts should focus on jobs in which people can support families.

The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends Cole Ballweg in the race for Texas House District 94.