El Paso Times Editorial Board
POSTED: 10/18/2014 12:00:00 AM MDT
El Paso's two members of the House of Representatives, Beto O'Rourke and Pete Gallego, have performed well in their freshmen terms and have earned re-election.
O'Rourke represents the 16th Congressional District, covering most of El Paso County. Gallego, who is from Alpine, represents the 23rd Congressional District, which stretches from El Paso's Lower Valley to San Antonio.
Both are Democrats, but both have shown an independence that moves them beyond partisan labels. Gallego faces a strong challenger in Republican Will Hurd in what is Texas' only truly competitive House race this year. Our nation would be much better if voters in all House district had such a choice between two quality candidates.
Hurd is a businessman and former CIA agent. He has deep knowledge of national security issues, in particular. Regardless of the outcome of this election, we hope we will see him on future ballots.
But Gallego is the choice in this race. Although the 23rd Congressional District has included El Paso County since the 1990s, Gallego was the first representative to open a district office in the county.
He has used his seat on the House Armed Services Committee to support Fort Bliss.
Gallego has a moderate voting record since taking office that reflects his district.
He is a longtime friend of El Paso. While serving in the Texas Legislature, he became a de facto member of the El Paso delegation, even though his district did not include El Paso. He worked hard for El Paso's interests.
Gallego deserves re-election.
His fellow freshman, O'Rourke, has proven to be a strong leader for El Paso. He has focused keenly on local issues, particularly border trade and veterans care.
While other members of Congress were pontificating about problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs, O'Rourke was talking to veterans. His landmark survey of veterans detailed shocking wait times for care in El Paso and became part of the national conversation about how to reform VA health care.
Most importantly, O'Rourke has been a voice of reason about the border, particularly in the face of politically motivated efforts to portray our community as some sort of lawless wasteland. He has appeared frequently in national media to emphasize reality, which is that the border is a vibrant and vital part of the national economy.
Democrats have held the 16th Congressional District for all but two years since its creation in 1903. That's not going to change this year. Republican challenger Cory Roen is an Army Reserve officer and a sincere conservative. But he shows little depth on issues, too often falling back on slogans.
Libertarian Jaime O. Perez is a perennial candidate drawn to the spotlight. He is given to spouting clearly bogus statistics to support his latest incarnation as a populist. The El Paso Times gives O'Rourke an enthusiastic endorsement. He is an emerging national voice for the border region.