With 2018 Congressional midterm elections more than a year and a half away, several Texas Democrats say they want to take over the 21st Congressional District from a man they say has been denying climate change's existence.
Lamar Smith, the chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, has represented the 21st Congressional District—which covers parts of Austin and San Antonio—for three decades, and his opponents say it's time for him to go.
"In his 30 years in Congress, [Smith has] been a consistent voice not for the people of the district, but for partisan politics and special interests," said Joseph Kopser, one of the Democrats planning to run against Smith in the November 2018 midterm election, in a video announcement Wednesday.
A 20-year U.S. Army veteran, Kopser founded RideScout, an Austin-based trip-planning app that merged with GlobeSherpa in 2016 to become moovel North America. He is now the president of Grayline, an organization that help companies and public institutions manage disruptive change.
Elliott McFadden, another Democrat who plans to officially announce his campaign for the 21st Congressional District June 5, called Smith the "top climate change denier" in the U.S. House of Representatives in an emailed news release.
A 25-year Austin resident, McFadden served as executive director of the Travis County Democratic Party, led the campaign to establish the Travis County Hospital District and founded the first car-sharing service in Texas. He currently leads Austin B-cycle, the city's bike-sharing program.
"I want to take my record of effective, progressive leadership to Washington so we can restore Congress as an equal and independent legislative body, reform our electoral system so it will reflect the voice of voters, and invest in our people so we can all enjoy our country’s prosperity," he said on his campaign website.
McFadden and Kopser join several others, including Chris Perri and Derrick Crowe, in the running for Smith's seat.
Perri is a criminal defense attorney who lives in South Austin, and Crowe is the founder and former co-owner and operator of Mothership Books and Games, a small retail business in Austin focused on "geek" culture and gaming. Crowe is also a former staffer for senior Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In November, Smith called the election of President Donald Trump a "new era of independence from an arrogant and unresponsive federal government."
Most recently, the congressman has expressed his support for Trump's 2018 Fiscal Year budget, saying in a news release the plan "balances budget and reins in federal spending programs that ballooned under the Obama administration.”