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Five Republicans Hope To Replace Retiring Congressman Marchant In Texas District 24

LM Otero
Associated Press
A sign in both Spanish and English points voters in Dallas to a polling location.

With Super Tuesday right around the corner, in the North Texas 24th Congressional District five Republicans hope to replace Kenny Marchant, the longtime Representative who’s retiring. They include 4 first-timers and one seasoned office-holder. 

Former Irving mayor and council person Beth Van Duyne most recently served two and a half years in the Trump administration with Housing and Urban Development (HUD). She resigned to run for this seat.

“You’re going to have an adult in the room with me,” Beth Van Duyne said. “You’re going to have somebody who has a strong voice, will have a backbone and will fight for the best interests of 24, for the state of Texas and for the country.”

Van Duyne is controversial in part for the Irving resolution when she was mayor that supported a state house bill intended to bar Muslim Sharia law from taking hold in the U.S. and Texas. That bill failed in the Texas House.

Her four primary opponents for this seat, that includes parts of Tarrant, Dallas and Denton counties, acknowledge Van Duyne is the leading Republican.

“It’s an uphill battle, to be honest,” businesswoman Sunny Chaparala said.

Jeron Liverman agrees. He works in real estate and is also running for the seat. “It is an uphill battle,” he said. “If you gauge most elections by who has the most money, she’s already won the race.”

David Fegan, who's also involved in real estate, acknowledges there’s a money-race along with the political race. “She’s huge and she has a ton of money,” Fegan said. “It’s appealing when you first glance at it.”

But, Republican hopeful Desi Maes figures he’s still got a shot. “I wouldn’t have got into this if I thought there was no way to win,” he said.

Chaparala and Maes are both attacking Van Duyne for being what they call a "career politician," even though Donald Trump endorsed the former mayor.

" She’s the establishment, she’s the swamp,” Chaparala said. “She’s everything he [President Trump] fought against.”

Maes also has a take on what's wrong with "career politicians."

“They’re going to D.C. They’re taking money off the backs of us, and nothing’s getting done,” Maes said.

Van Duyne says she’ll get things done thanks to her political experience. She wants affordable health care, better roads, and beefed up borders. 

Most candidates share those priorities, but Jeron Liverman's thoughts on immigration aren't that simple. He said the father in him leads him to identify with all dads, including undocumented fathers. 

“It is complex for me,” Liverman said. “Yes they’re here illegally. My opponents would say they got to go back. It’s a bigger problem than just sending people to where they don’t’ have a place to go back to.”

David Fegan has empathy toward immigrants, if they’re here legally.

“I love immigrants,” Fegan said. “And that’s why I speak Arabic and I speak Spanish. It’s to invite incoming immigrants. The legal ones.”

One of Fegan’s top priorities is his opposition to abortion.

The top priority for former Green Beret Desi Maes is a better business environment with fewer regulations.

“Let’s look at reducing more taxes for businesses. If we continue to reduce it just like our President Donald Trump is doing, then it creates more jobs,” Maes said. “ People say trickle-down economics doesn’t work. I can tell you it does.” 

In a President election year, the top of the ticket typically drives turnout — for better or worse for down-ballot candidates — and every Republican in this primary supports President Trump. 

Updated Feb.28 at 11:34 a.m.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.