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Texas Senate Candidate Takes Advantage of Single Spotlight

Ryan Loyd
Texas Public Radio

Candidates don’t often miss the opportunity to deflect what another candidate might be saying, but Texas Senate District 25 candidate John Courage, a Democrat, has frequently had the chance to speak to voters by himself lately; even though his opponent, Republican Donna Campbell, has been invited to the same events.

Courage is a teacher, and he told students on Tuesday that he best represents the people of the district, at an event that was supposed to be a debate. But without Campbell, it was the perfect chance for Courage to let people know what he thinks about his own plan, and hers.

The One-Sided Debate

"She has a plan, and her plan revolved around her winning the Republican Primary and just figuring, ‘If I stay low I'll win the election,’” said Courage. “Well, you can't hide from your constituents. So I think that'll be the downfall of her campaign."

Courage is vowing to restore funding for public education and come up with ways to get the state out of its financial crisis, such as adjusting the business tax - known as the Margins Tax - and closing tax loopholes.

Courage took advantage of the opportunity to call Campbell out for moving into a district he said she knows nothing about.

Credit Ryan Loyd / Texas Public Radio
Republican Donna Campbell speaks with supporters at her New Braunfels watch party July 31. She defeated long-time Sen. Jeff Wentworth to face Democrat John Courage in the November general election.

Records show she moved to New Braunfels in late 2011. 

"I think that this is going to be an election that the people in our district are going to say, 'We want somebody who knows us, who lives here, works here, and has understood our needs and concerns to represent us in Austin,” Courage said. “And that's going to be the difference in this campaign."

Courage criticized what he sees as Campbell’s lack of substance, saying that all she’s done is wave the Constitution and say she’s “all for Texas sovereignty.”

"She really doesn’t have any solutions because she’s a doctor," said Courage. "That’s what she knows best. I’m a teacher, I’m an educator, and I’ve been involved in government and politics. When you look at who you’ve got to vote for, understand what their character is and what their issues are and how they affect your lives.”

Campbell Rebuilding Republican Base

Campbell’s campaign previously told Texas Public Radio that she is devoting her time to building bridges within the Republic Party, following her victory during the bitter primaries. Campbell defeated long-time Senator Jeff Wentworth, and knocked Texas Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones out of the race.

Campbell's Communications Director Jon Oliver said in a statement that Campbell had a full schedule that prevented her from attending the debate at Northeast Lakeview College.

“Improving education and strengthening the Texas economy remain [Campbell’s] top priorities,” read Oliver’s statement. The overwhelming support of private citizens, community leaders, and organizations behind her shows she is the most qualified candidate to serve us in the Texas Senate."

It All Comes Down to the Voters in Texas Senate District 25

Voter C.J. Calzada, who is a student, said he typically leans conservative, but  is undecided on Courage and Campbell.

"I loved a lot of thing that he was saying,” Calzada said. “I didn't disagree with a lot of the stuff.”

Calzada's main concern is education for his children and he wants money to be returned to schools across the state – something Courage said he would fight to do.

Cynthia Flinn, who is also a student, was concerned with health care.

"I was in the military 13 and a half years," said Flinn. "I was one of the ones riffed out. So of course all I get is very little disability. I don't have any health care myself and I need something. For those of us that are middle class or that are poor and can't afford it, you would think whether you're a veteran or anything like that, we would have some kind of health and we need it; we don't have it."

As Courage finished his talk alone on the stage in front of the students, he said he hopes voters will see the difference between him and Campbell and vote accordingly.