AUSTIN, Texas — Texans are a little more than three weeks away from the start of early voting, businesses can welcome more customers starting Monday and Democrat Julie Oliver sat down with KVUE's Ashley Goudeau to discuss why she thinks 2020 will be the year she unseats Republican Congressman Roger Williams.
Three things to know in Texas politics
On Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced plans to expand reopenings across the state. Immediately, he allowed hospitals to resume all elective procedures. Starting Monday, Sept. 21, restaurants, stores and other businesses in most parts of the state can increase capacity from 50% to 75%. And on Thursday, Sept. 24, nursing homes and assisted living centers can open to essential visitors.
Bars will have to remain closed. Abbott said they are considered COVID spreading locations but added that his team is working on strategies to safely reopen them.
It looks like the Harris County clerk won't be able to send out mail-in ballot applications to every registered voter in the county after all. Last week, a judge rejected the State's attempt to stop the mass mail-out. But this week, the Texas Supreme Court issued a stay, stopping the clerk from sending out those applications until the case can be heard by the Court of Appeals.
The race between U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R) and veteran MJ Hegar (D) is heating up. This week, the Democrat called out the three-term senator and challenged him to participate in three, statewide televised debates. So far, Cornyn has only agreed to participate in one debate, but his team told KVUE he is willing to do more.
Julie Oliver (D), candidate for U.S. House of Representatives - District 25
While the 2020 ballot is filled with new candidates vying to represent Texans, some races are rematches. That's the case for the District 25 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The district includes parts of Hays, Travis and Burnet counties and stretches north to just south of Dallas.
Oliver spoke with Ashley Goudeau about what she believes will be different this time around.
Ashley Goudeau: Begin by telling our viewers a little bit about yourself, your background and why it is that you're running for Congress.
Julie Oliver: "Well, thank you. My name is Julie Oliver, and I'm running for Congressional District 25 here in Texas. And I'm running because I have 20 years of health care finance experience that we need in Congress, especially going through a public health crisis, a global pandemic, realizing that health care is more important than ever and that we should be expanding access and affordability to folks who don't have health care rather than restrict it. And as a mother of somebody who has preexisting conditions – I call him affectionately 'my walking preexisting condition' – I want to ensure that health care is part of my son's future, as well as the 325,000 folks in District 25 who have preexisting conditions."
Goudeau: This is not your first time going up against Congressman Roger Williams. In 2018, he defeated you by about nine points. What makes you think you can defeat him this time around?
Oliver: "Well, recent polling shows us only two points behind Roger Williams. And I can tell you there's a different sentiment on the ground. And 2018 was amazing if you think about it. We moved the needle in a race 12 percentage points with no help from the national party, very little resources but a whole lot of people who committed their, their weekends and their evenings connecting with voters. So, I'm really proud of the work we did in 2018. And what we're seeing right now [is] a lack of a federal response to a global pandemic, even a lack of a State response, a thoughtful response, to dealing with the pandemic that we've all been living with for about six months now. We need somebody in Congress who will go to bat for the folks in this district. And that's not what we have right now. What we have right now is somebody who's gone to Congress to enrich himself, taking $1 to $2 million of PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] for his car dealership, saying zero was the number for folks who had been unemployed or furloughed due to the pandemic."
Goudeau: You've been very sort of vocal in your criticism of Congressman Roger Williams. What is it about his performance in Congress that has stood out to you, making you want to replace him?
Oliver: "Well, Congressman Williams has had seven and a half years to get something done. And about the only thing that he's done is name a post office in Burleson and come under an ethics violation for filing an amendment to a bill that benefited his car dealership. And he has voted against health care for folks in Texas every opportunity he's gotten. Ten times, he's voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. I'll tell you again, living with a child who has preexisting conditions, this is the difference between a life filled with medical debt and a life that's not filled with medical debt. Or truly, in some other cases, truly a life and death situation if an insurance company is able to deny care or coverage to folks who have preexisting conditions. So, he just wants another two years to do nothing in my opinion."
Goudeau: If elected to Congress, tell us what would be your top priority?
Oliver: "Well, health care is what got me in this race in 2018 and, clearly now more than ever, it's still very important. But I'll tell you as well, we need to get corruption out of Congress. When special interests and corporations can come in and write limitless amounts of money into the electoral process, write fat checks to congressmen, what you have is congressmen who are beholden to the special interests and not to their constituents. Which is why I made a decision in 2018 – and I stuck with it through 2020, I'll continue to stick with it – I don't take a dime of PAC money. So, it leaves me independent to do the right thing for the folks in this district. I mean, I look at this as a customer service role. How can I provide excellent customer service? Well, if I have special interests breathing in my ear and dangling checks in front of me, I'm more likely to go listen to what the special interests want me to do rather than the men and women who are in District 25."
Goudeau: You know, if you are elected to Congress and we presume that Democrats are able to maintain control of the House, it is still highly likely that they will have to work with a Republican-led Senate. So, how will you be reaching across the aisle, if elected, to get legislation passed?
Oliver: "Well, Ashley, there are a number of bipartisan issues that we can work on with folks across the aisle. And again, because I don't take special interest money, that leaves me a little more room and a little more independence to work on bipartisan issues. But ensuring that our veterans get the things that we promised them, getting their disability claims met in a timely fashion, ensuring that they have benefits for themselves and for their children. That's a bipartisan issue. Working on the 'I am Vanessa Guillen' bill is bipartisan in fashion. So, there are a number of things that we can work on, reach across the aisle, find [a] compromise and find solutions for the folks in this state."
Goudeau: Share with our viewers some final thoughts about why you think they should elect you this November.
Oliver: "Ashley, I am ready to roll my sleeves up and get to work and whether that's ensuring that every person in District 25 has health care and untethering employment and insurance – we've seen, living through a pandemic, where millions of jobs have been lost. Frequently, those jobs being tied to health insurance. We can do it much better. And in Texas, we have the most to gain. You know, for folks who think about their property taxes, we all say that our property taxes are too high. If you think your property taxes are too high, vote for a Democrat because right now what we've got is this patchwork quilt of how we pay for health care in Texas. We pay our property taxes to fund folks who don't have insurance who end up in the E.R. We send our income taxes to other states. In fact, we've sent $100 billion of income taxes to other states that expanded Medicaid. And for those of us who are fortunate enough to have insurance, we ride the roller-coaster ride of premiums, co-pays, deductibles, surprise billings, whether or not our doctor will be in-network or out of network next year or how much our employer is going to take on as far as the premium. So, there's a lot of work that we have to do.
We need to address climate change in a meaningful way. We need to ensure that we aren't saddling kids coming out of college with enormous amounts of debt. We need to work on campaign finance reform and getting, weeding corruption out of Congress. And we need to do what is right by our veterans, the men and women who serve in uniform. And we've got Fort Hood, the largest military installation in the United States, in our district. And we need to make sure that we honor our commitments to the men and women who have served this country."
Texans have until Oct. 5 to register to vote. Early voting runs from Tuesday, Oct. 13, through Friday, Oct. 30. Election Day is Nov. 3.
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