Tyler, TEXAS (KETK)- The battle to represent District 1, is being shown on the TV screen, from your neighborhood all the way to Washington. Longtime Congressman Louie Gohmert has won in his district by a landslide since 2004.
His opponent, Democratic challenger, Hank Gilbert is no stranger to politics himself. A two-time candidate for the Texas Agriculture Commissioner. Although Gilbert did not pull out a victory, he is hoping to make a difference this year, but running against a political veteran.
LOUIE GOHMERT (INCUMBENT)
Congressman Louie Gohmert has never received less than 61 percent of the vote. Serving for nearly 16 years, he describes his time in Congress as a scary movie, “Halfway through I was really sorry I came, but I couldn’t leave until I found out it came out and in the case of Congress, I’m fighting to have the proper outcome.”
“This country is hanging in the balance. We’re at the edge of going full socialist or getting track so they can back to self-governing country with a 2 party system,” said Gohmert.
Gohmert, a lawyer and former judge in East Texas, is known for making headlines, given “The Speaker of Truth Award.”
Gohmert prides himself on being a favorite among Tea Party groups, often speaking as an advocate across Texas and the U.S.
Serving his country as Captain in the U.S. Army. Today, he and his wife Kathy are the proud parents of three daughters. Members of Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Gohmert has served as a deacon and Sunday school teacher.
Hank Gilbert, a 13 year Agriculture teacher, runs his own ranch. He believes working in Washington is his next major hurdle.
“I’m seeking to go there, to be the voice for the people who don’t have a voice,” Gilbert explained.
In 2008, Gilbert ran for the open Texas Agriculture Commissioner seat. During that race Gilbert brought attention to the Trans-Texas Corridor System, a network of ID-lane highways planned to run through much of the state. Gilbert explaining to voters that they are “built through the seizure of private lands by eminent domain and without any thought to the tremendous environmental problems it would cause across Texas.”
Gilbert would go on to lose the race but prides himself on visiting 254 counties during that time.
He gives credit to his late wife, Karla, for pushing him to run for District 1 before she passed away in 2017.
“I guess it took a strong willed woman to basically make me man up and stand up and do what needs to be done for this District, because has she still been alive, she’d be running,” Gilbert said.
After losing a battle to cancer, Gilbert re-named their family charity after her, “Karla’s Joy,” helping to furnish homes and apartments for more than “825 East Texas women in crisis.”
Congressman Gohmert says his proudest moment in Congress was being the first to draft and sponsor Kari’s Law. The law requires businesses to use a multi-phone system allowing direct calls to 911 for emergencies.
“I believe this will prevent any other Kari’s in the future from having their birthday celebrated after they are deceased,” explained Congressman Gohmert when the law was first being introduced.
The case shocked East Texas in 2013. In Marshall, Kari was stabbed to death by her husband in a hotel. The entire time, Kari’s daughter, who was in the room, was trying to dial 911. What her daughter didn’t know was that an extra digit had to be dialed before she could reach dispatch.
THE MUELLER INVESTIGATION
In 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller was the focus of an investigation, after claims of Russian interference in the 2016 United States Election surfaced. There were alleged links between associates of President Donald Trump and Russian officials, conducted by special prosecutor Robert Mueller from May 2017 to March 2019.
It was during the very public, televised hearing, where Gilbert says his tipping point to run came. Criticizing Gohmert’s approach during one of the hearings, as Gohmert questioned the former Special Counsel.
“Louie started his 5 minutes hollering at the man, and by the time he ended his 5 minutes, he was screaming at Robert Mueller. Never in that time did he ever ask a question. He just looked like ravage bulldog, and I’m thinking, this is why Texas gets such a bad name on the national stage,” said Gilbert.
Voters have become used to watching a series of political ads across their television screens. Whether your watch one produced by Louie Gohmert that says, “When it comes to protecting East Texans, Louie Gohmert says what needs to be done,” or one supporting Hank Gilbert, “because we’re fed up with his hateful nonsense, this is the year we’re going to flip Texas.”
Each one, pleading their case to Texans.
“As my late pastor once said, you know your leading when people turn and start shooting at you, and so during my days as a district judge here, my skin has thickened,” explained Gohmert when asked how he felt about the latest campaign commercial produced by Gilbert.
Gilbert says his message is clear, that change needs to come,”I have sat here and I have bit my tongue like a lot of other people have support[ed] Louie, and they’ve told me this. They have to hold their nose to go punch that button, because he hasn’t really had an opponent that gave him much of a race.”