TYLER, Texas (KETK) — It’s no secret that Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert’s decision to leave Congress for Ken Paxton’s seat as Attorney General has upended politics in East Texas.

The now-open seat has brought forth a sizeable group of candidates from both sides of the political isle. With so many candidates to pick from, it can sometimes feel overwhelming trying to pick the right person for the job.

KETK has compiled the list of Democratic candidates that have filed to run for Rep. Gohmert’s open seat for U.S. District 1 and what their messages are. Despite being located in a traditionally Republican district, these Democrats are looking to change that.

Victor D. Dunn

(Credit: Ballotpedia.org)

Victor Dunn is an East Texas native whose family has resided in Gregg County for over a century, according to Ballotpedia.

Dunn is a professionally trained vocalist, as well as an economist. He studied voice and economics at Texas A&M Commerce and the University of North Texas, eventually going on to perform as a bass with the Dallas Opera.

Since then, Dunn has become a small businessman and has run it successfully since the 1990s. He has described himself as “fiscally responsible” and “compassionately progressive.” Dunn’s top three issues that he plans to address as a congressman are “[bringing] the Jan. 6 insurrectionists to justice,” fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and “control spending.”

Jrmar Jefferson

(Credit: @jrmarjefferson on Facebook)

Born in Texarkana, Jrmar Jefferson, also known as J.J., has been active in politics for close to a decade.

Though his time in politics has been largely unsuccessful, Jefferson is driven by a passionate sense of justice. He has attributed his passion for politics to his father’s “wrongful” imprisonment, claiming that he wants to fight for the rights of people like his father who do not get a proper voice when it comes to government and elections.

Jefferson has stated that his fundamental values are conservative, while his social values are liberal, stating that he wants to help provide food and healthcare to those in need while also voting for laws that “regulate the greed and corruption that create our poverty.” In a nutshell, Jefferson intends to fight for voter rights, improving poverty, access to healthcare and address corruption.

Gavin Dass

(Credit: @Gavin4Texas on Facebook)

Gavin Dass is an East Texas native with a passion for change in the political realm of America. Dass is the youngest candidate vying for the opportunity to represent the citizens of U.S. District 1. Though he has struggled with Muscular Dystrophy for much of his life, he has made tremendous strides and defied expectations many times.

Dass is a graduate of Tyler Junior College and University of Texas at Austin. According to the Texas Secretary of State, he currently spends his time as a teacher. Though Dass has filed to run as a Democrat, he has said that he identifies more with Independent voters. According to his campaign, Dass is committed to fighting poverty, reforming healthcare and helping end corruption in Washington.

Stephen Kocen

(Credit: Ballotpedia.org)

Stephen Kocen is small businessman that has lived in Texas since 1965.

Kocen comes from a blended Jewish-Christian family and is a middle child of nine. During his time in business, he has managed to establish and improve several pediatric, therapeutic and veterinary clinics for more than 30 years. Over the course of the pandemic, he has travelled around the country and even spent time as a World Series of Poker dealer.

Kocen claims that he was inspired to run for Congress after he witnessed the events of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. According to his campaign, Kocen’s three cornerstones are protecting American democracy by supporting voting rights, protecting women’s rights by fighting for Roe v. Wade and protecting our planet by supporting legislation to combat climate change.

As of right now, there are four Republicans and four Democrats eyeing Gohmert’s open seat. The four Republican candidates are as follows:

  • Aditya Atholi, who has previously worked for Rep. Louie Gohmert.
  • Joe McDaniel, an East Texas native and small business owner.
  • Nathaniel Moran, the now former Smith County Judge.
  • John Porro, who has worked as a Physician’s Assistant in Texas for close to a decade.