TX-21: Joseph Kopser vs. Chip Roy

“All about energy”

Joseph Kopser
Joseph Kopser

In one aspect, Kopser has a unique advantage over the other long-shot Democrats in the Austin con­gression­al districts – he's not running against a Republican incumbent. After 30 years, Lamar Smith's retirement opened the field for Kopser and Ted Cruz protégé Chip Roy, and in theory, a less polarized campaign. Kopser says he is "not really running against any one person," but to "present a vision" that he's been provided by teachers, coaches, mentors, and even commanding officers: "We all do better if we're looking after each other."

Kopser beat three opponents in the Democratic primary, and in that campaign there were complaints from the others that he was insufficiently "progressive." He says that criticism has essentially ended, and he proudly recalled Mary Wilson (defeated in the primary run-off) as standing beside him at a recent event and saying, "Unity is not uniformity."

In TX-21 as elsewhere, he says, health care is much on voters' minds. "At one end [of the issue], people want coverage for everybody. At the other end, they want to see the system – which is one-sixth of the economy, and yet not delivering the best outcomes – to be fixed and made whole again." He said voters are aware that the GOP promised to "repeal and replace" Obamacare, but hasn't done that, and he noted that Roy used to work for Ken Paxton – "who's one of the attorneys general suing to strip the law of coverage for pre-existing conditions."

Immigration, he added, is raised by district voters in different ways. In the cities (Austin and San Antonio), people call attention to family separations and a crackdown on immigrants. In the rural districts, he hears also from ranchers and farmers "worried about the peach crop" and who need workers. People in different areas might have different perspectives, he says, but "there is a commonality – that we can do a better job by treating people decently and with respect." In that vein, Kopser says he doesn't hear much directly about Trump, "because it's just so obvious" that he is "the source of a lot of frustration," whether it's from his "pendulum swings on tariffs" or his "blatant attempts to drive wedges between people" over ethnicity or country of origin.

Kopser says the campaign's polling reflects that independents and moderate Republicans who "hear my story ... break our way," and that he's brought an entrepreneurial strategy to his campaign, dividing his time according to the population breakdowns across the district, and working as hard as possible. At this point, he concludes, "It's all about energy."

TX-21 Snapshot: "Likely R"

FiveThirtyEight odds of D pickup: 1 in 5 (13.6%)

Chip Roy: "Defund Obamacare, increase border security, and protect gun rights"

Other candidates: Lee Santos (Libertarian)

Money race (as of June 30):

Kopser: $1.5 million raised, $345,598 cash on hand

Roy: $934,789 raised, $190,273 COH

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November 2018 election, Joseph Kopser, Chip Roy

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