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Rep. Todd Smith Fights For Re-Election

By Shelley Kofler, KERA News

Dallas, TX – Across Texas, an unusually large number of Republican incumbents are being challenged from within their party. One of the most hard-fought contests is in Bedford where seven-term legislator Todd Smith is defending his record. KERA's Shelley Kofler has more on how voter anger is playing a role.

Ask Republicans voting in Bedford, what's important in this election and they rail against Washington.

GOP Voter: The healthcare. I don't want them doing what they're doing now

Those like Frank Snell basically want to throw all the bums out of office.

Snell: Government, get off our back let us live our lives. Quit stealing from us and quit putting super debt on our children and grandchildren.

Recent Rasmussen polls show an overwhelming number of Americans fed up with Congress. Some 74% of Texas voters trust the judgment of American people more than the judgment of political leaders.

In Republican strongholds like Tarrant County, which includes Bedford, voter anger has forced numerous incumbents to fight for their seats.

Smith: This is State Representative Todd Smith, I wanted to call and personally ask for your vote.

In Texas House District 92 seven-term incumbent Todd Smith works the phones. He's drawn his first primary challenge in 14 years.

Smith: I wanted to call and ask you for your vote March 2.

It's been an ugly race. Smith's opponent, 56-year old Jeff Cason is a retired marketing employee for Union Carbide, a former Bedford councilmember with a better funded campaign. Smith claims Cason has used the money to pay for direct mail that distorts his record.

Smith: My opponent has spent his entire war chest derived from a few sources outside the district lying about my record on voter ID lying about my record on taxes lying on my record on a bill that would give judges discretion on determining whether teenage consensual relationships should result in lifetime registration as a sex offender, lying about my record on immigration.

Most of Cason's money comes from two groups Smith says he stood up to: homebuilders who didn't like Smith's efforts to abolish an agency accused of short changing home owners; and oil and gas interests who didn't like Smith's opposition to former Speaker Tom Craddick, an oil and gas man from Midland.

Challenger Cason defends his campaign mailers

Cason: I haven't said anything untrue or half true. I have to question his conservatism, how conservative he is

Cason says he's just defending conservative values and has a campaign message republican voters want to hear this year:government no longer represents people and needs to spend less money

Cason: I feel like I'm Ronald Reagan conservation and I believe in less government and lower taxes and more personal freedoms.I hear politicians constantly asking for more money more sources of revenue. I personally think right now we have a lot of waste and fraud in state government

Smith says he's frustrated by the simplicity of the accusations aimed at incumbents in general and his record specifically. A claim, for example, that he stalled and killed the voter ID bill, doesn't include the fact that House votes for and against Voter ID were about equal. Smith said he needed to find a compromise of some sort to get anything passed. In the end nothing did.

Smith says part of his job now is convincing mid-city republicans that he's conservative enough and that the climate in Austin is different from debt-ridden Washington.

Smith: To direct your anger at Austin when we are fiftieth in the nation in per-capita state spending is simply misguided. We are a fiscally conservative in this state. We have been and will continue to be fiscally conservative in this state.

Smith says he's banking on his many endorsements, including those of Bedford council members who served with Cason.

Cason says he's counting on republican voters wanting a change.

Email Shelley Kofler