Addressing about 40 to 45 persons were John Ratcliffe, a candidate for U.S. Representative from House District 4; Tony Arterburn, representing Ratcliffe’s opponent, incumbent Ralph Hall; and the candidate for JP, Wyone Manes (Her opponent, Kimberly Clift-Stone, did not attend). All are running in the May 27 GOP runoff.
Also speaking to the public gathering, which included eight members of the county Executive Committee, was Sue Evenwel, a member of the State Republican Executive Committee.
Citing his qualifications for Congress, Ratcliffe touted his performances as former mayor of the small town of Heath in Rockwall County, as a onetime U.S. Attorney, and as ex-Chief of Antiterrorism and National Security for the Eastern District of Texas.
“I’ve got a proven record,” he said, terming himself a “pro-gun, pro-life, limited government conservative” who now is in private law practice.
The candidate said that although “just about everyone (had) thought it would be impossible” for him to win, 55 percent of Hall’s Congressional district (which includes part of Upshur County) voted against the incumbent in the March 4 GOP primary, and “We need better leadership.”
“After (Hall’s) 34 years in Washington, Washington’s never been more broken. It’s time for leaders who will put the focus on the next generation, not the next election,” Ratcliffe declared.
Saying Congress has too many career politicians, he added, “Congressman Hall is a very nice man. .But he’s had 34 years (in the House of Representatives). . .What is he going to do in the next two years that he hasn’t had a chance to do in the first 34?”
He said Hall has no town hall meetings, and Ratcliffe committed to having at least six if elected. But as for a television commercial which criticizes Hall, Ratcliffe said a political action committee, not the candidate himself, is running it.
Detailing his own “very public” record, the 48-year-old Ratcliffe said that as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas (in 2007-2008), he had prosecuted drug dealers, child predators, and dishonest public officials. And for eight consecutive years as mayor of Heath (population 7,000), “I refused to raise taxes even a single penny.”
He said he has balanced budgets, and that he was “sick and tired of out-of-control” spending and borrowing in government.
While assailing President Obama for moving the nation away from “limited government” over the past five years, Ratcliffe also blasted what he termed “our failed GOP leadership” in Washington. He said it has sold out citizens, and that it has been “outworked, outsmarted, outmaneuvered” by Democrats.
He said he wanted to fight Mr. Obama, and “when necessary, our own Republican leadership.” The President, he charged, has policies which condition Americans to expect government to do more for them in exchange for giving up some of their freedoms.
Arterburn, an unsuccessful candidate for the Congressional seat in the March 4 Republican primary, said he and Hall have the same barber, and that Hall called him the day after that election. While admitting that “I’m not an expert on his record,” Arterburn said Hall “votes on the side of life,” and quoted the Congressman as saying he would not vote to intervene in a nation to change its form of government.
Hall co-sponsored legislation aimed at establishing the “fair tax, “ the “flat tax,” and “repeal of the death tax (estate tax),” his representative said. In addition, the veteran Congressman is for “economic patriotism” as free trade is “economic treason,” said Arterburn, a radio talk show host.
Arterburn said free trade is the “Trojan horse of global government,” and “the establishment of the (Republican) party loves this stuff, for some reason.” The speaker said he endorsed Hall partly because the Congressman voted against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1992.
He additionally said that only Hall had stood up in Congress against South Koreans dumping steel in the United States, and that the veteran representative wants to bring home troops from Afghanistan and Iraq and “put them on the (Mexican-U.S.) border.”
While Hall is 90 years old, he is in good health mentally and physically as “he did a math problem in his head the other day,” Arterburn said. “His schedule’s full today,” the speaker added, explaining why Hall did not attend Saturday’s meeting.
He also said Hall plans to seek only one more 2-year term, which would make him the last World War II veteran in Congress (since the only other one is retiring). Arterburn said that status influenced his endorsement.
He termed Hall and Ratcliffe both “good men,” and said his support of Hall is “not a personal unendorsement of John Ratcliffe.”
Arterburn also said he did not support Hall out of hopes that he himself would someday hold the office.
Mrs. Manes said she had worked in the JP office for 11 years, plus 2 1/2 as Justice of the Peace before losing her bid for reelection in 2010 (she had been elected to an unexpired term earlier). She said she is “trying this (running) again to see if I can make a difference,” as she said she had done before.
She said District Attorney Billy Byrd had moved issues involving schools in her precinct (such as truancy, fighting, and tobacco offenses) to the Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace office. If elected, she said, she would talk to Byrd about moving the issues involving the New Diana and Union Grove schools back to her court. (He was unavailable for comment when The Mirror attempted to contact him Monday.)
Manes said she wanted to be “very active” with schools by going there and telling students what she would do to them if they were charged in her court.
She said she didn’t know why she lost her bid for reelection in 2010 to the office’s current occupant, Laura Lee Norred (who did not seek reelection this year). But “it wasn’t anything that I did. I couldn’t fight the politics of the Sheriff’s Department,” where Ms. Norred had worked, Mrs. Manes asserted.
She also said that if elected back to her onetime job, she would allow offenders to pay their fines over time, and would keep the office open slightly later than it is now.
Before the candidates spoke, Mrs. Evenwel criticized some current Republican officeholders. She said State Board of Education member Thomas Ratliff wanted to remove oversight of educational materials from the board, which was “not a good thing” as schools could get any curriculum they wanted.
She said the controversial “Common Core” curriculum had infilitrated Texas schools through “C-SCOPE.”
Mrs. Evenwel also said President Obama’s proposed “TransAmerica Partnership” is like NAFTA “on steroids. . .very bad.” Yet, “our Republicans are putting it on fast track in Washington,” she said.
She urged those present to call their Senators and Congressmen to urge them to oppose it.
Upshur County Republican Party Chairman Cynthia Ridgeway briefly reviewed the races on the May 27 GOP runoff ballot. Besides those for Hall’s Congressional seat and Pct. 1 JP, they include contests for the party’s nomination for Lieutenant Governor, state Attorney General, state Commissioner of Agriculture, and a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission (which, despite its name, no longer regulates railroads, but the energy industry).