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Ways and Means' Brady Faces Tough Election

Image: Ways and Means' Brady Faces Tough Election
Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, the House Ways and Means Committee chairman. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP)

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Tuesday, 01 Mar 2016 10:07 AM Current | Bio | Archive

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady is feeling the heat from from fellow GOP members and tea party types.

That's because in the current anti-establishment climate that gave birth to Donald Trump, Brady, who infuriated the right with his vote for the Omnibus Spending Bill that includes funding for many key programs conservatives were trying to defund, is one of a handful of House incumbents that expect a tough fight for re-election.

High turnout is expected and that might not bode well for sitting congressional members. Brady, who was appointed House Ways and Means chairman in November, has only to look to what befell House majority Leader Eric Cantor as an example.

“That’s because it’s our version here in the 8th District of the movement that toppled [then-House Majority Leader] Eric Cantor from his seat in Virginia,” said retired businessman Bill O’Sullivan, an activist in Texas Patriots Political Action Committee and  supporter of Brady primary opponent Steve Toth. Texas Patriots, headed by local conservative activist Julie Turner, is considered among the most effective tea party organizations in Texas.

“And Steve is actually in a stronger position than Dave Brat was when he came out of nowhere and took out Cantor in 2014.”

Tea party animosity toward 20-year Rep. Brady has been fueled by the lawmaker’s ties to former House Speaker John Boehner and the Republican leadership hierarchy in the House. Last year, Brady succeeded Paul Ryan as chairman of the tax-writing committee after Ryan moved to the speakership.

Most recently, Brady infuriated the right with his vote for the Omnibus Spending Bill that includes funding for many key programs conservatives were trying to defund: Planned Parenthood, the Export-Import Bank, and the Refugee Resettlement Office, which actually was funded to a higher level as the Obama Administration seeks to admit a greater number of Syrian refugees to the U.S.

“And where no one knew who Brat was when he challenged Cantor, one poll showed Steve Toth to have 30 percent name recognition when he started the race,” O’Sullivan told me. Toth is a former state representative who sported one of the most conservative records in Austin. Well aware of Toth’s anti-tax record and opposition to the federal education program known as Common Core, the home school-based Madison Project and the Tea Party Express both weighed in strongly for him against Brady.

More than 60 percent of the 8th U.S. House District is in Montgomery County, where Toth formerly represented a legislative seat.

O’Sullivan recalled meeting Toth and how “he asked me to help him get the support of our tea party group. I told him, ‘Come back and see me when you’ve raised $100,000.' He did.” Toth has now raised more than $170,000, almost all of it in small donations from individuals.

Along with Toth and Brady, there are two retired military veterans in the four-candidate primary. O’Sullivan and other Toth backers privately hope that Brady can be held to less than 50 percent of the vote, which will necessitate a run off.

What makes the 8th District primary’s outcome hard to call is that the overall turnout in Harris County (Houston) is expected to possibly double the previous turnout record of 170,000 voters in 2008.

“Nobody knows who these people are,” Harris County Judge (County Executive) Ed Emmett told McClatchy News Tuesday, “It’s mind-boggling. There are 10 races I’m going to watch Tuesday night, and one of them is Brady.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
 

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House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady is feeling the heat from from fellow GOP members and tea party types.
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Tuesday, 01 Mar 2016 10:07 AM
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