The religious, libertarian leaning NRA hero who represents the wealthy in Houston, Texas

John Culberson represents the 7th Congressional District in Texas. It’s a weird gerrymandered district, created when Houston, which had been in one Congressional District, was broken up into three parts. Culberson was elected in 2000 to the 7th District Congressional seat once held by George H.W. Bush. You might have heard of John Culberson: He and a few others tried to force the VA to use only Christian prayers at military funerals.

His website slogan is “Let Texans Run Texas.” He supports the Republican Liberty Caucus, the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. His sayings include: “Barack Obama is the most untrustworthy President in American history,” “I do not believe that the federal government has a role in the education of our children,” “I’m disappointed that the Court chose to override the will of Texans who define marriage as being between a man and a woman,”

“The House Appropriations Committee recently adopted my amendment that will protect churches from being bullied by the Internal Revenue Service and left-wing activists whenever a church engages in educational political activity” and “the only way America can repeal Obamacare is through the ballot box with a Republican President and a Republican Congress.”

Culbertson voted to prohibit product misuse lawsuits against gun manufacturers. He voted to prohibit suing sellers for gun misuse and he wants to loosen restrictions on interstate gun purchases. He’s got an A rating from the NRA (no kidding).

In Houston, the city he represents, homicides are up 59 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to the first quarter of 2014. For the entire year of 2014, gun murders were up 12 percent. Seven people were shot and killed over one weekend in March 2015. Houston has recorded 150 murders so far this year.

It’s true, John Culberson’s District includes the better part of town and the higher-income suburbs to the west. These gun murders are probably less of a problem in his District than in Sunnyside or around Dowling and McGowen. Down there, they are Rep. Al Green’s problem. He’s one of those Democratic liberal left-wing activists Culbertson likes to rail against.

In the last Congressional election (2014), Culbertson faced energy attorney and Clinton White House staffer James Cargas. The Houston Chronicle made their endorsement pretty clear: We endorse Democratic challenger James Cargas, who also ran in 2012. Cargas, 48, is a reasoned moderate more interested in working for the common good than scoring empty political points. He has worked in Congress, the White House, the Department of Energy and currently is Mayor Annise Parker’s “energy” lawyer. He supports light rail, reasonable immigration policy and energy development, including fracking, a big issue in a district thick with oil companies. Unlike Culberson, he’ll be a constructive force in Congress, which would be a welcome changeCulberson defeated Cargas 60 percent to 38 percent.

I haven’t been able to find any candidates who have announced their intention to go up against Culberson. It’s early, there might be people gathering support and doing the calculus. The population of Texas 7th Congressional District is changing, with a majority of voters coming from outside Texas or outside the U.S. Culbertson has endorsed Ted Cruz for President, and when the Cruz ship sinks, it might hopefully suck Culbertson down with it. Politics being an imprecise science, a lot can happen between July 2015 and November 2016.

This is one of those Districts where change is difficult but not impossible. A lot of us from the “outside” might decide that it’s OK for Culberson to call for “Texans to run Texas” but it’s not OK for a Texan like Culberson to try to enact his particular brand of Lone Star-ism on the rest of us.

He is a United States Representative, and what he does (or tries to do) has an impact on the rest of us. It is profoundly our business to elect somebody else, somebody better, in the Texas 7th. When a candidate emerges to challenge, send him or her a small donation. Tell everybody. Talk about it on social media. And if you can, go to Houston to work on the campaign.

This is the way we will change Congress, removing a bit of chaff wherever we find it.


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