Conservatives in East Texas can rest assured that at least one liberal lawmaker won’t be returning to the Texas House next session.
On Tuesday, State Rep. Lance Gooden (R–Terrell) announced his intention to run for the Texas’ 5th Congressional seat to succeed outgoing Congressman Jeb Hensarling who announced in October that he would not seek re-election.
Since then a number of candidates have entered the GOP primary for what is a safe Republican seat. Candidates include, former State Rep. Ken Sheets (R–Garland), GOP fundraiser Bunni Pounds (who Hensarling has endorsed), and rumors swirl that Jason Wright, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s East Texas regional director, will enter the race as well.
Unlike most candidates who run for Congress, Gooden has a record taxpayers can look to – and it’s not a good one.
First entering the Texas Legislature in 2011, Gooden was immediately frustrating to his conservative constituents, who then removed him from office in favor of conservative stalwart Stuart Spitzer, who earned a 100 rating on the Fiscal Responsibility Index in his first session.
However, despite Spitzer’s record, Gooden mounted an aggressive race to retake his old seat and was successful in defeating Spitzer and taking back the seat.
Back in the Texas Legislature, Gooden regressed even further, moving from a frustrating disappointment for conservatives to one of their sworn enemies. During the 85th Texas Legislature and subsequent special session, Gooden scored a 42 on the Index – only 8 points higher than the leading Democrat lawmaker. Along the way, Gooden was open in his disdain for grassroots conservatives and their priorities.
With such a disastrous record, Gooden was in for a tough re-election campaign and rematch against Spitzer in the GOP primary. And given that Forney pastor Marty Reid has announced his intention to enter the race as well, a runoff would have been all but assured.
Gooden likely knows that he couldn’t run such a gauntlet and win – especially given conservatives’ records of retiring liberal lawmakers in runoff elections. He’s decided to take a crack at Congress instead.
But if history is any guide he’ll find that his failing record isn’t any more appealing to the East Texans outside of his district than the ones within it – and he’ll lose this campaign as well.