Your Harris County U.S. Representatives Election Rundown
Illustration by Shelby Hohl
Early voting is open in Texas and that means that this election cycle is nearly over. To quote Buffy Summers, these endless days are finally ending in a blaze. Lord. Have. Mercy. I honestly don’t know what I’ll do with all this extra time not spent worrying about the fall of America.
Hillary Clinton’s quest to douse Orange Lantern’s light has been the dominant story in democracy, but when you enter the voting booth in the next couple of weeks you might be surprised to find out that there are a whole host of other people also vying for office. We’re here to help this week with a brief, easy rundown of some of the Representatives Harris County voters will be hiring and firing.
Author’s note: those running unopposed were excluded from this article.
U.S. Representative District 2
Ted Poe (Republican, Incumbent) – Poe is a pretty typical Republican. Tough on crime, hates Planned Parenthood, wants low taxes, etc. On the plus side, Poe has a pretty amazing record of working for aid and justice for rape and sexual assault victims, and does good things combating human trafficking. Oh, and he’s currently battling leukemia, which we are most avidly rooting for him to beat because politics is politics, but fuck you, cancer.
Pat Bryan (Democrat) – Bryan is, among other things, the proud owner of the most glorious facial hair in 2016 Texas politics. He has a zero percent rating from the National Rifle Association, and has been endorsed by the Houston GLBT Caucus. If a $15 minimum wage is your thing, Bryan is your guy.
Joshua Darr (Green) – Any candidate that mentions feminism as a positive in the first question of an interview is probably a good choice.
U.S. Representative District 7
John Culberson (Republican, Incumbent) – Culberson is an annoying kook, birther, and frequent embarrassment to Texas. He (along with Poe and Michael McCaul) tried to mandate that Christian prayers be read at deceased soldiers’ funerals rather than a prayer of the family’s choice. Also a regular believer in the idea Barack Obama is GONNA TAKE OUR GUNS!
James Cargas (Democrat) – Cargas is an energy lawyer who has worked for the Bill Clinton administration. He’s a hard science guy that wants deep investment in medical and energy science. He’s also made doing something about 610 traffic a main campaign platform piece, and for that alone he’s basically my political boyfriend this year.
U.S. Representative District 9
Jeff Martin (Republican) – Martin hasn’t received a single donation this election cycle, has no website, no news coverage, and for all we know may be completely imaginary.
Al Green (Democrat, Incumbent) – Arguably the most pro-choice politician in Texas, and a solid public servant with a long history of competent legislative experience. Maybe just a hair too trusting of the justice system to not be screamingly racist.
U.S. Representative District 10
Michael T. McCaul (Republican, Incumbent) – McCaul is the Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, and the second wealthiest person in Congress. Despite the obnoxious soldier funeral thing mentioned above, he’s a pretty good guy to have on your team. He’s one of the many people who have tried (and failed) to talk sense to Donald Trump, and defending the nation against cyberattacks is his big issue. I’d say the last year has proven we need someone taking care of that.
Tawana W. Cadien (Democrat) – Cadien is a nurse, and frankly that’s really all it takes to win my vote these days. That aside, she’s short on details when it comes to the issues, particularly homeland security where McCaul probably has her beat from the start. She’s more of a new-start-and-hope sort of candidate.
Bill Kelsey (Libertarian) – Kelsey is legitimately the coolest guy running this year. Sure, his ideas about abolishing the income tax and closing all foreign military bases are out to lunch, but the dude is a straight up superhero that flies humanitarian missions with his own plane. Also, he has opinions on immigration that should be required reading. Man, District 10 gets all the good Texas politicians.
U.S. Representative District 18
Lori Bartley (Republican) – Bartley is the woman the GOP has chosen to lose to Sheila Jackson Lee this year (seriously, that woman will serve until Jesus calls her home). Joking aside, Bartley is not bad at all. She’s a direct descendant of Matthew Gaines, the slave turned Texas State Senator, and her biggest issue is working on mental illness care and education reform, which is desperately needed. She’s kind of churchy and gun-happy, though.
Sheila Jackson Lee (Democrat, Incumbent) – And lo, the term “flawed candidate” was redefined, and we all did stand back in wonder and awe. Lee, regularly regarded as one of the meanest people currently serving Congress, is an odd combination of bizarre gaffes and solid work as a liberal legislator. Despite this, she inspires the fiercest loyalty I have ever seen in a political base.
Thomas Kleven (Green) – If Kleven was any blander I’d swear he was a British cookbook that could talk and file election paperwork.
U.S. Representative District 22
Pete Olson (Republican, Incumbent) – Olson is, to put it mildly, a jerk. He was one of the main leaders in the attempt to impeach Attorney General Eric Holder, and most of his butthurt came from Holder not enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act. Oh, and he hates weed, too, if that matters to you.
Mark Gibson (Democrat) – Gibson is a wholesome, if somewhat dull candidate. Former military, he has a very no-nonsense approach to politics. He supports equal pay for women, banning weapons from schools and churches, and other standard moderate left principles. About the only thing controversial about him is his desire to institute term limits on members of Congress, something that would actually make things worse.
U.S. Representative District 29
Julio Garza (Republican) – Like Al Green, Garza is pretty much a non-entity without even a website. His FEC filings show he’s neither collected nor spent money on his campaign.
Gene Green (Democrat, Incumbent) – Green is another one of those Houston politicians that has a virtual stranglehold on his district. He’s got a bad spot on his record for not only voting to invade Iraq, but giving a fiery speech linking 9/11 to Saddam Hussein. Hawkishness aside, he did help pen the Affordable Care Act. He’s also trying to get rid of the Electoral College system, which is nice.
N. Ruben Perez (Libertarian) – I really don’t think we should vote for someone whose website looks like it was on Angelfire in the ‘90s.
James Partsch-Galvan – Partsch-Galvan is a complete nutter who wants Hillary Clinton in jail for treason and murder.
U.S. Representative District 36
Brian Babin (Republican, Incumbent) – Babin recently shot to national attention when he defended Donald Trump calling Hillary Clinton “nasty” by reminding that sometimes women do need to be told when they’re being nasty. Also, he doesn’t think we should take any more Syrian refugees and that most refugees are already on entitlement programs (they’re not). Basically if the Daleks ever invade Earth I expect Babin to be the dude who sells us out and gets exterminated in the third act.
Hal J. Ridley Jr (Green) – Unfortunately, Babin isn’t going anywhere because this is the only person challenging him. The Democrats either didn’t even bother fielding a candidate or couldn’t find someone willing to fall on their sword in the name of nominal opposition. Ridley’s got the standard left positions (legalize marijuana, high corporate taxes, cutting defense spending), but by his own admission he has no organization and is raising no money. This campaign discipline is probably why when he tried for the same seat in 2014, he managed to secure a whopping 0.51 percent of the vote.
We hope this information will be useful to you as we head into the final weeks of one of the strangest election cycles in history.
by Jef Rouner