It's hard to decide what has impressed us more during the first few months of this project: the number of races in traditionally red Texas that Democrats are contesting this year - including every single US Congressional race - or the quality and quantity of those candidates. It's hard to think of a more perfect example of this abundance of talent than in Texas-21, which will elect a new member of Congress for the first time since the late 1980s following the retirement of Lamar Smith.
Smith had represented this Austin/San Antonio based district since 1987, and has the antiquated scientific viewpoints to prove it. From his position as chairman of the science committee, he has waged what the LA Times called "a war on scientists, research administrators and even state officials whose offense was to establish the human role in climate change." Smith's retirement in a district in which he has faced only occasional Democratic opposition has set off a mad dash in both parties to find a candidate to replace him - and put the district on the DCCC's map of "offensive battlefields." But it was his sponsorship and support for some of the most regressive gun legislation in Congress that put him on ours.
Both parties, as expected with an open seat, have large primary fields, and once again we are in the position where any of the Democrats seeking the party's nomination would provide a dramatic improvement over the incumbent. All four candidates bring a unique perspective to the race, and we hope all continue to be voices in the Democratic party regardless of the outcome. But in the end, it is Army veteran and tech entrepreneur Joseph Kopser that we believe is best positioned to make that improvement a reality. He has mounted a truly impressive early campaign focused on bringing new voters and newly energized Democrats into the process. His compelling personal story (20 years of meritorious service in the Army) and proven fundraising heft (he out-raised the then-incumbent two straight quarters) likely made Smith's decision to retire a bit easier.
With Smith's name absent from the ballot, Kopser now gets to run for an open seat against the winner of a large, wide-open, unpredictable Republican primary. He does so with the backing of organizations like VoteVets PAC, the Lone Star Project PAC, and Democratic luminaries Seth Moulton and Steny Hoyer.
We're happy to add our name to that list, confident that his experience will make him a unique, necessary voice for gun reform within the Democratic caucus and the halls of Congress. We have no doubt he'll stand up to the NRA, and be an ally in our efforts to legislate a future where Americans are safer from gun violence. We are pleased to endorse his campaign, urge Democrats to make him their nominee, and hope voters of all persuasions who are interested in finally moving in a more positive direction on gun regulation send him to Congress.