• August 23, 2019

Conaway seat up for grabs - Odessa American: Government

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Conaway seat up for grabs

Some already considering running

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Posted: Sunday, August 4, 2019 5:30 am

U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Midland) announced Wednesday he would retire when his eighth term in Congress is up and several locals have said they are considering running already.

Conaway, 71, said he would be putting his family first by retiring, and called this the perfect time to transition as his third and final term as head of the House Agriculture Committee expires. Conaway is only about six months into his final term, but said he wanted to announce early so those interested in running would have time to prepare for the March 2020 primary.

For whoever ends up replacing him, Conaway said he would want them to respect the process and respect the House of Representatives.

“This institution is enshrined in our constitution, there’s no more worthy public service spot than serving in the people’s House,” Conaway said. “You can get in Senate by appointment, but to get in the House, you have to stand in front of the people and ask them for their vote.”

No one has explicitly stated they will be running for Conaway’s District 11 seat yet, but several have already said they are considering running for the seat.

One person considering running is State Rep. Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa), who said he was still deciding whether or not he would run.

“The encouragement I’ve received to run has been overwhelming and I’m very grateful for all of that support,” Landgraf said. “I am dedicated to serving my fellow West Texans and I want to serve the most effective way possible. Running for Congress is a big decision and I’ve been discussing it with my family…We’re praying, we’re asking other people to join us for praying for God’s wisdom in the decision making.”

Another person who has said they are launching an exploratory committee for District 11 is Aubrey Mayberry, a truck driver in Odessa who is a Republican.

“I want to see a strong conservative who actually has the morals and values that are predominant in our area and not somebody that’s gonna go up there to D.C. for personal gain,” Mayberry said. “You can further your own ambitions by being a congressman, and I don’t want somebody that has self-interest going.”

Mayberry called himself the most unqualified guy to mention he is interested so far, and said if a candidate steps forward who he thinks is running for the right reasons, he would back out and support that person.

Another potential candidate is Midland District 4 City Council Member J. Ross Lacy, who said he wouldn’t comment just yet, but that he would hold a press conference this week.

“I’m exploring all of my options right now, we’re gonna make an announcement next week,” Lacy, a Republican, said.

Midland Mayor Jerry Morales praised Conaway last week, but said he was content to serve as mayor and wasn’t interested in running for the seat himself.

“I hope that the candidates that run do their homework, get out there and really canvas the territory, sit down with the congressman immediately to get versed on the issues,” Morales said.

Conaway still has another year-and-half in office, and while he said there isn’t much chance to push an agenda being in the minority, he hopes to add his voice to solutions benefiting the nation and set an example for whoever takes his place.

Phil Fouche, an Odessa businessman, is a lifelong friend of Conaway. They were roommates in college and attended Permian High School together. Fouche said Conaway was a genuine and kind person who has done a wonderful job for his constituents, and said Conaway has stayed the same caring person he has always been.

Looking back on his time in office, Conaway said some of the highlights of his service included visiting Ethiopia to see one of the House Agriculture Committee’s feeding programs in action. Conaway said he visited one village where he saw an elder carrying 110 pound bags of produce shipped from America—usually wheat or rice or corn—and put them on a donkey to take to his village and distribute. But Conaway also said there may be a difficult decision to be made in the future where the U.S. may not be able to afford to provide that food any longer.

Conaway said he also saw a woman in a shed cooking some of the food shipped to them. He recalled seeing a big pot of yellow porridge, being stirred by a stick picked up off the ground, and the bright shiny faces of the children eating it. But he said the children never got tired of eating the same thing every day, as they saw it as the same as asking if they get tired of eating.

“Those programs are America at its absolute best,” Conaway said. “The pointy end of a sword, that’s different from the point end of a sword you normally think of, those kids would otherwise be going hungry. And we’re doing that out of our compassion for the rest of the world.”

Conaway also recalled being at Fort Hood following the shooting that resulted in the deaths of 13 people. He said he saw the military put each coffin into the belly of a C-17 aircraft, each draped in an American flag.

“All of us have life experiences where they’re just ingrained in your mind, you can think about it, you see that picture right off the bat,” Conaway said. “Those experiences will stay with me for a long time.”

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