Next Tuesday, Sept. 28, the race for District 10 in the Texas state legislature will be decided. Despite what seems like a year of unending election cycles and fierce campaigns, the decision next week matters. It matters not only because of the need for stability in Austin, it matters because of the potential risk that, if we aren’t careful, more of the D.C. culture will permeate our local communities – a culture we neither need nor can afford.
Putting aside the incessant nonsense coming from a few of my pals over at the True Texas Project – who can’t seem to figure out, by the way, which candidate they like from one race to the next – and the rancor injected into this race by the newcomer, the choice is rather simple to me. Voters will choose between former state representative John Wray of Waxahachie, or relative newcomer to state politics, Brain Harrison of Midlothian. Wray represented District 10 from 2015-2021 and was a strong, effective legislator. Harrison, from July 2019-January 2021, served as chief of staff for HHS Secretary Alex Azar in D.C. Prior to that, Harrison owned and operated a Dallas-based, dog-breeding business from 2012-2018.
From what I know and from a vantage point I’ve taken plenty of time to consider, John Wray is without question the best-suited man for the job. Wray understands the needs of the people of Ellis and Henderson counties, he understands Texas, he can navigate the landscape of state politics, and he certainly has the experience necessary to do the job well. Wray and I haven’t always agreed but, as far as I’m concerned, we don’t have to in order for me to support him. There’s not a politician dead or alive, including the best in my lifetime – Ronald Reagan – that I’ve agreed with completely. Truth is, the last thing we need today is another shallow politician willing to say anything to anyone in order to garner a vote. Such politicians come a dime a dozen and do nothing but drag society further down the drain. If my discussions with Wray are indicative of the discussions Wray has with others regarding his positions, and I have every reason to believe they are, then he’s worthy of your vote.
With respect to Harrison, I do have concerns. I don’t doubt the candidate’s passion, his devotion to family, his likeability, and that he wants to be a high-profile politician. It’s the tactical approach Harrison uses that troubles me. By example, his seemingly insatiable need to be seen as a member of Trump’s inner-circle not only drives me crazy, it isn’t true. Regarding Harrison’s exaggerations, Politico wrote earlier this year that “Brian Harrison, a chief of staff to former Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, has angered a swath of Trump White House and HHS political appointees … prompting complaints that he’s inflating his record and trying to co-opt Trump’s brand.” Later in the same story, Adam Cancryn wrote, “ ‘There are people close to the president (Trump) reminding him not to endorse Brian Harrison,’ a former White House official said.” And “White House officials increasingly frustrated with HHS’ management of the early Covid response in April got to the point of discussing the firing of both Harrison and Azar. Though they never followed through, the hard feelings have lingered beyond Jan. 20, with several bristling now at the idea of Harrison carrying the Trump banner into Congress.” Cancryn also quoted a former White House official as saying, “It ticks off the entire Trump network,” and that “The president would not be able to pick him (Harrison) out of a room.”
If what those working in D.C. think of Harrison’s approach isn’t enough to give you pause, consider the suggestion Harrison has made that John Wray should drop out of the race simply because he came in second on election day. Pardon my candor here, but I’ve witnessed a lot of stupid, arrogant politics but don’t recall any politician ever demanding his opponent drop out of a contested runoff simply because he came in second in the general election. Not only is it remarkably arrogant, it is a thought process completely detached from the essence of competition. It’s analogous to telling a football team behind at halftime to forfeit the game. Better yet, imagine Jake Ellzey dropping out of his recent runoff against Susan Wright for Congress because he came in second to Wright on election day – a race in which Harrison came in a distant fourth, by the way. Ellzey, as you know, won the runoff with Wright. There’s plenty to unpack with Harrison’s remark, but if nothing else, it says a lot about what the D.C. culture does to a man.
In addition to Politico, with respect to Harrison’s obsession to be noticed, the NY Times in a January story regarding new regulations Harrison supported while at the Department of Health and Human Services reported that “Top health officials have grumbled about what they view as Mr. Harrison's efforts to draw attention to his role in pursuing new rules, including using the department’s public affairs Twitter account to regularly feature graphics with his name on them commenting on new policies.”
It's fair to assume Harrison wants to be a player in politics, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem is found in the extent to which he is willing to go to be one. While it may seem a bit too simple to say, a guy’s either got the ability to do the job or he doesn’t. In this case, like in nearly every other similar case, it’s usually the candidate spending a small fortune attempting to bury his opponent in mud while simultaneously inflating his career experiences who isn’t being straight up with you. And, Lord knows, every city in America already has enough of that.
My hope is that each of you will go to the polls on Tuesday and choose John Wray as state representative for District 10.
Scott Brooks is publisher of the Waxahachie Sun. Email him at email@example.com.