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State Legislators Weigh In on the 2016 Race for President

by Colleen McKinney

With much of the likely GOP field for the 2016 presidential campaign having strong ties to Texas, including U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and former governor Rick Perry, political observers here are salivating over the prospect of a wide-open race. Not surprisingly, state legislators in Austin are also keeping an eye on the presidential campaign as it unfolds in Iowa, New Hampshire, and even here in Texas. 

“It’s an interesting and intriguing race,” Representative Cecil Bell (R-Magnolia) told Sayfie Review Texas. “[The] good news is that so many strong candidates have Texas ties, which will make Texas front and center,” Bell said, adding that he is not ready to officially endorse any candidate yet.

Representative Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth), who has already endorsed Cruz, said that many under the Capitol Dome have started paying attention to 2016. “There’s lots of talk on the House side,” Krause said. “Lots of people are excited that Texas will play a key role in the election, from having so many candidates with Texas ties.”

On the Democratic side, most observers believe that Hillary Clinton will coast to her party’s nomination. However, Senator Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston), a Clinton supporter, still believes 2016 will be an exciting election. “I’m waiting for session to be over so I can get more involved in my district,” Garcia said.

Despite the presidential chatter, it appears that legislators are primarily focused on the task at hand so close to the end of session. “We have enough issues in front of us and a short enough time frame that it’s not affecting much,” Bell said. “We’re focused on a timeline that is evaporating daily, and it’s hard not to become myopic with other things [such as 2016 speculation.]”

Garcia expressed a similar sentiment, noting that the lack of a state-level elected official from Texas in the race has kept the legislature on track. “Unlike last session, where the agenda was based on the former Governor’s agenda and ambitions, there’s no posturing this time around because no one is in Texas,” Garcia said. “Senator Cruz isn’t in Texas, he’s in Washington.”

With Election Day more than 18 months away, the 2016 race is still in the early stages. However, it isn’t too soon for legislators to begin laying out their goals for the upcoming campaign. “I hope Texas will be in play for the Democrats like it is for the Republicans,” Garcia said, noting the Democratic Party’s relative weakness in ruby red Texas.

As for Bell, he hopes the GOP will nominate a conservative candidate for 2016, rather than choosing a moderate like they did with Mitt Romney and John McCain in recent years. “We need to run a candidate that’s firmly on the right,” Bell said. “It’s what the people of Texas want, and it’s what America deserves.”

 

Who they’re supporting in 2016:

Representative Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth): Ted Cruz. "I’m 100% on board! Others underestimate him at their peril."

Senator Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston): Hillary Clinton. "I'm all in for Hillary! Hillary Clinton's campaign couldn't come at a more crucial time in our country. Si se puede."

Representative Sid Bell (R-Magnolia): Undecided. "I think it's safe to say we haven't heard all the names in the hat yet, but I'm committed to helping elect a strong conservative candidate and one that shares our values."

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Editor’s note: we’ve created a 2016 Presidential Endorsement Tracker, where you can follow the latest moves from prominent Texas politicos as they weigh in on the presidential race. You can find the Tracker here: http://bit.ly/1G7VNw5