Primary Colors: Part II

More races to watch, up and down the ballot

State House, District 47, Republican: How right can you run?

If you're a Republican running for District 47, the way to distinguish yourself from the pack is not to – how else to explain the frontrunner status of Bill Welch? The five candidates – Welch, Alex Castano, Terry Dill, Rich Phillips, and Dick Reynolds – share similar (identical?) campaign themes: They each ape Gov. Perry's call to spend more money in the classroom (and not on wasteful incidentals like buses, counselors, infrastructure, etc.), support cutting property taxes, an anti-choice agenda, and the (non-Perry-esque) belief that toll roads border on the blasphemous – in other words, pushers of the GOP party platform all, with added emphasis on the District 47 hot buttons of education and transportation.

Yet Welch has won the endorsement of Sal Costello's anti-toll People for Efficient Transportation PAC (his "Roads Yes. Tolls No." billboard likely helped, as would have "Free Money") and the Texas Association of Realtors, one suspects, by burnishing his relatively moderate credentials (e.g., a stint on the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District) with his recent Air Force tour in Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, at a recent forum Welch smartly skipped, Castano, Dill, Phillips, and Reynolds all raced to the right of one another in rigorous defense of Fetal-, Zygote-, and Blastocyst-Americans – not necessarily a good look for the swing district. Real estate maven Castano and business development czar Phillips are looking to outflank each other on the issue, each posting endorsements from abortion foes, while former pro golfer and newcomer Dill remains vague on most everything. Reynolds, a former state rep from Dallas, has little campaign presence to speak of.

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