FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: League of Conservation Voters Action Fund Endorses Joseph Kopser in TX-21

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TO: Interested Parties

DATE: September 27, 2018

Contact: Madison Kaigh, (726) 999-0176 (madison@kopserforcongress.com)

League of Conservation Voters Action Fund Endorses Joseph Kopser in TX-21

(Austin, TX) -- Today, the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund announced their endorsement of Joseph Kopser for Congress in Texas’ 21st Congressional District. LCV Action Fund released the following statement:

“Joseph Kopser served our country with honor and we know he will do the same in Congress,” said LCV Action Fund Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld. “We are proud to endorse his campaign because he is committed to investing in our clean energy economy and ensuring that every family in Texas has clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. He’s a scientist, an entrepreneur and a proven champion for moving our country to a greener future and creating new jobs that will support our families and communities.”

Kopser, an Army veteran and technology entrepreneur, released the following statement in response to the endorsement:

“I’ve been a “clean energy warrior” since I served in Iraq and saw firsthand the human consequences of our dependence on foreign oil. Whether it was in the Army or in my business, I’ve spent my career working towards the clean energy solutions that are good for people, good for profits, and most importantly, good for our planet. Now I’m running for Congress in a district with incredible potential for jobs in wind and solar. I’m fighting to make Central Texas a leader in the renewable energy economy, and partners like the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund will help get us there.”

The League of Conservation Voters Action Fund joins the Sierra Club, Environment Texas, and Clean Water Action in endorsing Kopser, who studied Aerospace Engineering at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Background:

Joseph Kopser is a 20-year Army veteran, technology entrepreneur, husband and father of three daughters, and Democratic nominee for Congress in TX-21. His candidacy is driven by concern for the future of our country and the path Washington leadership is taking. He is building a new coalition of voters who believe the values, priorities, and expectations of Texas’ 21st congressional district will serve as a model of service and representation for Texas and the United States.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: End Citizens United Endorses Joseph Kopser for Congress in TX-21

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TO: Interested Parties

DATE: September 26, 2018

Contact: Madison Kaigh, (726) 999-0176 (madison@kopserforcongress.com)

 

End Citizens United Endorses Joseph Kopser for Congress in TX-21

 

(San Antonio, TX) -- Today, End Citizens United announced their support for Joseph Kopser, a combat veteran, entrepreneur, and candidate for Congress in Texas’ 21st Congressional District.

ECU is dedicated to ending the corrosive influence of money in politics and fighting for campaign finance reform.

“Joseph is dedicated to stemming the flow of special interest money into elections that’s undermining our democracy,” said ECU President Tiffany Muller. “He believes that government must work for real people first and foremost, not mega donors and special interests, and that it should never have a price tag. We’re proud to endorse Joseph and look forward to his victory in November.”

Joseph Kopser added:

“This campaign is about ending the divisiveness that’s infected our politics and bringing calm to the chaos of DC. Eliminating the power of special interests and getting big money out of the system is a key step in that process. That’s why I’m proud to be endorsed by End Citizens United, and grateful for their work to end the cronyism and hyper-partisanship in Washington."

“Our grassroots movement is powered by nearly 7,500 donors, over 80% of whom have given in small amounts. We’re focusing on this district, visiting all ten counties of TX-21 to establish new expectations of transparency and accessibility.”

Read more about ECU’s endorsement of Kopser here.

Background:

Joseph Kopser is a 20-year Army veteran, technology entrepreneur, husband and father of three daughters, and Democratic nominee for Congress in TX-21. His candidacy is driven by concern for the future of our country and the path Washington leadership is taking. He is building a new coalition of voters who believe the values, priorities, and expectations of Texas’ 21st congressional district will serve as a model of service and representation for Texas and the United States.

 

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PRESS ADVISORY: Texas Tribune ‘Split Decision’ Segment Shows Clear Contrast in TX-21 Contest

PRESS ADVISORY

TO: Interested Parties

DATE: September 26, 2018

Contact: Madison Kaigh, (726) 999-0176 (madison@kopserforcongress.com)

Texas Tribune ‘Split Decision’ Segment Shows Clear Contrast in TX-21 Contest

Army Veteran and Political Outsider Joseph Kopser Outshines Washington Insider and Career Politician Chip Roy

(Austin, TX) -- Today, the Texas Tribune released their TX-21 “Split Decision” video, showcasing key contrasts between Joseph Kopser and his opponent, Washington insider Chip Roy. The video highlighted Kopser’s background as a veteran and entrepreneur, and outlined his priorities for jobs, health care, bipartisanship and other issues important to all Texans. Hilary Barrett, Kopser’s campaign manager, released the following statement:

“This November, TX-21 voters have a clear choice. They can vote for a career political insider who parrots hyper-partisan talking points and can’t escape the scandals that follow him from the Attorney General’s office. Or, they can choose an Army Veteran and political outsider who served our country in the military, built a successful a business in our district, and raised three daughters with his wife of 23 years.”

A key contrast between Kopser and Roy focused on Roy’s shady dealings related to his job at the Texas Attorney General’s office. Roy continued to collect taxpayer funded healthcare benefits and salary after resigning from the AG’s office.

The section of the video transcript reads as follows:

Joseph Kopser: My opponent understands the need for healthcare. He kept his healthcare when he left the office of the Attorney General.

Chip Roy: I followed the rules that were given to me and at the end of the day, I was only paid for services that I provided.

Joseph Kopser: He did it to keep his healthcare and then he turned around and worked to break down healthcare in this state, and to take away pre-existing conditions.

“Now we know why Chip Roy has been avoiding debates in all ten counties and hiding behind fundraising emails rather than joining Joseph onstage for town halls.” Barrett continued. “Texans are sick and tired of extreme ideology, recycled rhetoric, and the politics of division. When voters get to know our positive message and hear Joseph Kopser’s story, we beat the odds in this gerrymandered district and win.”

Watch Kopser’s Split Decision segment here.

Background:

Joseph Kopser is a 20-year Army veteran, technology entrepreneur, husband and father of three daughters, and candidate for Congress in TX-21. His candidacy is driven by concern for the future of our country and the path Washington leadership is taking. He is building a new coalition of voters who believe the values, priorities, and expectations of Texas’ 21st congressional district will serve as a model of service and representation for Texas and the United States.

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ThinkProgress: Could a Democrat scientist fill this Texas congressional seat held by a climate denier for decades?

By E.A. Crunden

Lamar Smith is retiring. Joseph Kopser wants to offer TX-21 a new vision

AUSTIN, TEXAS — Crowded around a circular wooden table in a loud bar on Sunday night, Joseph Kopser raises his voice in an effort to be heard, as rock music duels with a football game on several large television screens.

Surrounded by energy and environmental experts, the Democrat campaigning to represent Texas’ 21st congressional district is trying to nail down what questions he should ask at an upcoming event. The gathering itself will focus on issues like renewable energy and sustainability, but as with everything else in this district, phrasing will be tricky.

“The term ‘climate change’ will shut them all down,” says Kopser pointedly. “What are the words I should use to keep the conversation going?”

“Stewardship,” one man suggests. “Emphasize preserving the land.” Kopser points and nods. Bingo.

To say that TX-21 is a Republican stronghold is an understatement. For progressives, the area is a shrine to the gerrymandering that has seen the state sliced and diced, largely to the benefit of conservative candidates. This district stretches from just north of the city of San Antonio all the way into Austin, an hour and a half away. It is over this extensive area that Rep. Lamar Smith (R) has held sway for more than three decades.

This year, Smith is retiring. During his time as a congressman, Smith has repeatedly rejected long-established climate science, earning a reputation as a climate denier among his peers.

Now, Kopser — an army veteran with a background in technology and renewable energy — wants to be the one to take his place, something his website makes very clear.

“The main motivation for my campaign was to unseat Congressman Lamar Smith, one of American politics’ principal opponents of objective reality and fact-based scientific inquiry,” the Democratic candidate states matter-of-factly, laying out his platform.

That goal predates Smith’s retirement announcement and Kopser is now facing Chip Roy, the former chief of staff for Sen. Ted Cruz (R) and an avowed hardline conservative. Cruz has repeatedly called his own opponent, Beto O’Rourke, a socialist, part of an effort to turn off conservative voters — and this is a tactic that Roy has employed as well, claiming Kopser is running a far-left campaign.

Kopser, who has run a campaign largely centered around drawing in voters of all political hues, scoffs at this. “He doesn’t want to debate me,” he says of Roy, who has largely shot down opportunities to face off publicly against Kopser. “He doesn’t want that contrast for moderates and independents.”

For some, Kopser is an unusual candidate. Conservatives have argued the tech entrepreneur and father of three daughters is too liberal; some progressives say he quietly leans to the right, a suspicion fueled by the Iraq War veteran’s military history and emphasis on reaching across the aisle.

That latter argument has followed him even after his victory in the state’s Democratic primary last spring. Kopser has taken more than a few controversial stances, including expressing support for heightened border control at a time when communities throughout Texas live in fear of both state and U.S. immigration crackdowns.

But he has also embraced a number of more progressive initiatives. Kopser has expressed strong support for Austin’s paid sick leave policy, which City Council members approved in February, making the city the first in the South to have such a requirement. In the time since, Kopser has pushed back against challenges to the policy by the state government.

Kopser also supports abortion rights and funding for Planned Parenthood, in addition to opposing Trump’s border wall and so-called “bathroom bills” targeting transgender Texans.

The candidate’s supporters say his nuances allow him to transcend partisan divisions, winning over more conservative voters. Above all, they say, he is a scientist.

That background has greatly influenced Kopser’s focus. He holds a degree in aerospace engineering from West Point and his interests in science and technology have largely shaped his platform.

Speaking to the potential for renewable energy, Kopser tells ThinkProgress, “The biggest priority I have is communicating to this district [that] we have a real chance, TX-21, to be a leader in this future economy.”

That’s a dramatic shift from what the district is used to. During his tenure in Washington, Smith has established himself as a thorn in the sides of environmentalists and scientists alike. The staunchly conservative lawmaker has pushed for regulation rollbacks at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in addition to overseeing a multi-year effort to undermine the use of confidential scientific data in U.S. policy-making, to the horror of health and green advocates alike.

For many, Smith personifies President Donald Trump’s signature opposition to both science and environmental regulations. His retirement offers an opening — one many hope Kopser can capitalize on.

Joshua Morrow, executive director of the group 314 Action, which encourages and empowers scientists to run for office, points to the Kopser campaign as a picture perfect example of science fighting back against Trump-era policies and rhetoric.

“In this race you have such a stark contrast on this issue. A guy who’s denying climate change even exists, [Roy] says we’re in a ‘cooling off’ period,” Morrow tells ThinkProgress. “He’s wrong on the science. Whereas someone like Joseph, he actually understands these issues.”

But understanding the issues may not be enough in TX-21, something Morrow readily acknowledges while remaining upbeat.

“[There are] certain races where you have candidates that are tailor-made for their districts, this is one of those races,” he says. “He’s an army vet, but also a scientist. He can speak to these issues with a real understanding. He’s not a career politician. Chip Roy has been in politics most of his life.”

While Kopser would move the district in a new direction, Roy would likely be more of the same. In addition to working for Cruz, Roy has also served under Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and former Gov. Rick Perry, now the U.S. energy secretary. And he most recently served as the director for the Center for Tenth Amendment Action at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. The Austin-based conservative think tank, which endorses hardline anti-climate policies, has come to assert outsized influence over the Trump administration.

Kopser’s policies are a dramatic contrast from Roy, but the Democrat multitasks his messaging, even pointing to his military record as the source of his passion for renewable energy.

“The first time I went to Iraq, I realized just how addicted the world is to oil,” he tells ThinkProgress. “It just drove me crazy that we would send soldiers over, risk their lives to protect the free flow of oil, lose lives, lose limbs. And the American people don’t really comprehend that that’s why we’re there.”

And Kopser is sure to make his feelings about the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks very clear.

“They pulled out of the Paris accords, they pulled out of the Clean Power Plan. Basically if Obama touched it, they’re trying to pull out of it,” he says wryly.

Opposition to Trump-style rhetoric is growing more popular, even in deep-red Texas, and it’s yielding results. Pointing to fellow veterans Gina Ortiz Jones and MJ Hegar, both Texans running for other congressional districts, Kopser emphasizes the momentum in the state this year. But rather than using the term “blue wave,” so often trumpeted by national media, he instead nods to the need for new ideas in Washington, something he says is necessary for change.

Polishing his messaging on Sunday as the bar’s music winds down, Kopser returns to science before heading home. “I’m an innovator, I’m an engineer,” he says. “I like tinkering with things, I want to know what works, what makes things better.”

Original Article. 


ThinkProgress: In Texas, young voters rally around a scientist promising to unite left and right

By E.A. Crunden

In one deeply gerrymandered Texas district, Joseph Kopser's campaign is working to make inroads.

AUSTIN, TEXAS — On a muggy Sunday, student volunteers for Joseph Kopser’s Democratic congressional campaign doggedly assembled to lay out their plan of action.

“Remember to open with a question they can’t say no to,” said Katie Hindes, a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin. “Like, ‘do you believe in democracy?'”

A chorus of chuckles filled the room, along with a series of nods. Fifteen minutes later, they file out into cars and head out to their various destinations throughout Texas’ 21st congressional district, which extends from the suburbs north of San Antonio all the way into Austin, an hour and a half away.

It’s a deeply gerrymandered district, one that has been held by Republican Lamar Smith for decades. Running to replace Smith, who is retiring, is Kopser, an Iraq war veteran and a Democrat new to politics.

Kopser is up against Chip Roy, a Republican who once served as chief of staff for Sen. Ted Cruz (R) and who leads in the polls, albeit by an increasingly narrowing margin. Their match-up is a study in opposites: Roy is a hardline conservative in keeping with the legacy of Smith. Kopser, by contrast, is a tech entrepreneur with a background in renewable energy, who studied aerospace engineering while at West Point.

And while Roy would continue Smith’s lengthy history of support for rolling back environmental regulations and refuting climate science, Kopser has made his support for sustainability and belief in climate change a core pillar of his campaign.

“I was definitely drawn to his science background,” Vinit Shah, 17, told ThinkProgress while riding in the back of a car en route to his assigned canvassing addresses. “That’s very important to me. He believes in climate change, in science. Both [political parties] need to be better about that. I think he can bring people together across party lines.”

That’s a dramatic difference from Smith, who has actively supported President Donald Trump’s environmental regulation rollbacks, while working to limit the data available for federal science policy.

“Lamar Smith doesn’t believe in climate change, doesn’t believe in science,” said Shah, something he said is a “huge factor” when it comes to his support for candidates.

A college sophomore studying public health and history, Shah previously canvassed for Kopser during the Democratic primaries. He’s now actively supporting the candidate in the general election, but he told ThinkProgress his approach to engaging voters has changed.

“During the primaries I emphasized his progressive stances,” said Shah, nodding to Kopser’s support for a number of causes, like abortion rights and protections for LGBTQ Texans. “It’s not that I don’t do that now in the general, but I say it differently. Instead of single-payer, I say, ‘expanding health care access.’ Conservatives like access. On climate issues I don’t say ‘climate change,’ maybe, but more, ‘conservation.'”

TX-21 is an undeniably conservative district and Smith has comfortably retained power since 1987. But this election cycle has seen an unprecedented amount of support for Texas Democrats, aided by the star power of Beto O’Rourke, whose progressive run for the U.S. Senate against Cruz has mobilized and energized voters.

Students campaigning for Kopser typically caveat that Beto-mania takes center stage for young voters. “Everyone’s excited about Beto,” said Hindes.

But that doesn’t preclude investment in other candidates. Kopser, she eagerly notes, is “just the best guy. He’s always telling stories. Just so, so nice.”

Years ago, a friendly, personable scientist vocal about climate change would have been a blip on the radar in a district like TX-21. But in 2018 amid a surge of anti-Trump sentiment — even among conservative voters — Kopser’s married, father-of-three status and history of army service are enough to bring more than a few independents and moderate Republicans to the table, progressive platform or not.

Kopser’s young supporters note that knocking on doors in the district means visiting neighborhoods that are deep red and deep blue alike. And in doing so, they’ve found some surprises. “There are lots of Republicans with Beto signs,” said Shah, sounding a bit in awe.

There are a multitude of factors at play this year in TX-21. Apathy among conservative voters is merging with the district’s changing face. Young voters are moving in and the area is diversifying. Suburban Republican women, meanwhile, simply don’t like Trump, the students say, giving them an opening. And with a candidate like Kopser, they feel they’ve hit the jackpot. Now, they just have to reach as many people as possible.

That’s easier said than done, but Madison Kaigh, the campaign’s communications associate, lays out her pitch to voters plainly.

“We’re not running against Ted Cruz, we’re running against the guy who got him elected,” said Kaigh, with a nod to O’Rourke’s popularity while placing emphasis on her final point about Roy, Kopser’s opponent.

Still, there are hiccups. A competitive race hasn’t played out in the district in decades and voter lists aren’t up-to-date as a result. On their rounds, the students often find that residents have moved away. Others are apathetic.

“I don’t vote,” one man said curtly on Sunday, shutting the door.

At other intervals, there comes victory. Several residents indicated their interest in Kopser to the students as they canvassed. One long-time Republican said he plans to vote straight-ticket Democrat in November.

“Got one!” Shah yelled, before quickly moving on to the next house.

Original Article. 


San Antonio Express-News: Kavanaugh sex assault controversy looms over San Antonio-area congressional race

By Bill Lambrecht, Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — The drama unfolding over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has sprung up in congressional races such as the contest for an open seat in the San Antonio area, a conservative district but one with segments of GOP suburban women.

The 21st Congressional District between Austin and north San Antonio has been held by conservatives since the 1970s, but it has trended younger and more diverse in recent years. It also has 11,000 more women than men, a disparity that could come into play if the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee ends up being viewed as treating Kavanaugh’s accuser unfairly.

Joseph Kopser, the Democrat in the race, is speaking out strongly in favor of slowing proceedings for a more thorough investigation of Christine Blasey Ford’s charge that Kavanaugh assaulted her when both were teenagers.

Kopser, an entrepreneur and Iraq war veteran, likely needs support from Republicans and independents if he is to defeat Chip Roy, the Republican in a district in GOP hands since the 1970s.

“It’s a lifetime appointment; there’s no reason to rush,” Kopser said in an interview. “Because it is 100 percent possible that a person, any person publicly could present himself or herself as an upstanding, forthright wonderful person and still have things in the past that are dark or terrible.”

Meanwhile, Roy, a protégé of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, is decrying what he calls a “political spectacle” and “unconscionable” efforts by Democrats to slow the proceedings.

“The Democrats ought to be ashamed of making it a political issue and the entire Senate Judiciary Committee should be ashamed for allowing this to become such a show,” Roy said this week during an interview on KSAT radio in San Antonio.

Roy and Kopser, both of Austin, are competing in the district held by Lamar Smith of San Antonio, who is retiring after this term, his 16th.

The sexual assault allegation shows signs of becoming a significant political issue heading into the November election, with Democrats in Congress vowing to investigate Kavanaugh even if he is confirmed.

The controversy presents challenges both for Roy and Kopser. Roy and other GOP candidates could see blowback from supporters if the Senate doesn’t succeed in appointing a certifiably conservative Supreme Court, a long-sought prize.

Democrats pledge to keep issue alive til November

For Kopser, the task ahead is appealing successfully to women in the district who may be troubled by treatment in Washington of Christine Blasey Ford amid the effects of #MeToo movement politically and culturally.

In the broader election landscape, women already favor Democratic candidates for Congress over Republicans by a record margin — 20 percent, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll.

In addition, more women than ever before are running for Congress this fall: 235 women won nominations in House races and 22 women are on Senate ballots, according to a tally by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

Among them is Gina Ortiz Jones of San Antonio, a Democrat seeking to unseat incumbent San Antonio Republican Will Hurd in a congressional district that stretches from San Antonio nearly to El Paso.

“Women like Dr. Christine Blasey Ford who come forward should be heard, not threatened, bullied or rushed through a hearing without a proper investigation,” Jones said this week.

Kopser, 47, referred to a recent spate of high-profile cases in which women have come forward to describe attacks and improper advances in the past.

“This is a very complex problem that is not going to go away just because someone puts up a hashtag that says ‘MeToo’,” he said. “There are plenty of good reasons why a lot of women have been silent on this issue for 30 years, as she has. It does not negate the fact that we need to give every one of these people their day being heard and our best attempt to investigate what they are saying.”

Kopser was asked in a radio interview last week if Democrats were trying to push Kavanaugh’s nomination beyond the Nov. 6 election.

“You mean the same way McConnell did it in November 2016? Yes,” he responded, referring to Republicans’ success in denying a confirmation hearing of appeals court judge Merrick Garland, who was Barack Obama’s selection to fill the court vacancy after the death of Antonin Scalia.

Roy, 45, recalled working for Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn as a staff member on the Senate Judiciary Committee when, he said, matters like the allegations against Kavanaugh were handled differently and on a bipartisan basis.

“There is a process to handle any kinds of things that come up like this … to take in any issues that come up, on background checks or issues that are raised, and be able to deal with them behind closed doors and handle them in the proper way,” he said in the radio interview.

Senate leader to Republicans: ‘Don’t get rattled’

Derrick Crowe, who Kopser defeated in the primary, contended that Republican women in portions of the district could be a significant factor given the tepid support of this administration by women in general.

“And now Republicans in Congress are trying to hand wave past allegations of sexual assault, adding to what already exists out there that encourages suburban Republican women to stay home,” he said.

JoAnn Fleming, executive director of Grassroots America-We The People and a key Roy backer, said she is aware of concerns by some GOP women about President Donald Trump.

“A lot of women may not like the way he speaks about something or what he tweets. They may not like those things, but they care about a Supreme Court appointment, about border security and they care very much about the future of their children,” she said.

Republicans hoped to enter the stretch run of the campaign with the fresh success of Kavanaugh’s confirmation to encourage the party’s base. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., on Friday told the GOP “don’t get rattled” and assured his party that the Senate will complete the confirmation.

Nonetheless, Fleming said that many conservatives in Texas are concerned about what they are seeing.

“People are expecting Republicans to get something done while they are in power,” she said. “Out of all of the noise that comes out of Washington, people can understand the lasting effect of the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court.”

The political intensity continues to grow … Kavanaugh’s confirmation, thought for weeks to be a certainty, is drawing opposition from portions of the electorate who hadn’t bothered previously to weigh in.

On Friday, the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, representing 45 Latino advocacy groups, declared opposition to Kavanaugh - the first time in its quarter-century existence that the Latino umbrella group has opposed a court nominee.

Thomas A. Saenz, who heads the organization, said Latinos acted because Kavanaugh’s nomination “has been unduly rushed and incomplete.”

On social media, the Kavanaugh nomination is triggering a torrent of activity. Cornyn’s tweet on Friday accusing Democrats of “more gamesmanship” for refusing to release Ford’s initial letter spelling out her allegations charges was met with a storm of biting comments, in addition to expressions of support.

In one response on Twitter a woman wrote: “Imagine if white men were as upset about sexual violence toward women as they are when men take a knee before a game.”

Original Article. 


Daily Texan: ‘The youngest person on the email thread’: students take to working on campaigns ahead of November

BY RAGA JUSTIN

On the morning of primary elections last semester, Jacob Springer woke up at 7 a.m. On a normal Tuesday, he would have been attending classes until early afternoon. But on March 6, Springer ditched his classes and took to the streets of Austin to knock on doors and pass out campaign pamphlets for nine hours straight.

“This is what I care about more than school,” said Springer, a government political communications sophomore. “I care about the government and the elected officials that are representing me. And so I am often willing to put other things on the line to work on campaigns.”

As the midterm elections approach, “politics” has been a campus buzzword. For Springer and other like-minded students, voting is not enough to satisfy a deep interest in government and policy. So they turn to campaigns, finding positions as interns or volunteers and working alongside the potential lawmakers they support.

Springer is a field organizer for Joseph Kopser, the Democratic nominee for Congressional District 21. Last semester, he founded Students for Kopser, a UT political advocacy club, and now, he supervises all campus volunteering efforts for the Kopser campaign.

As someone interested in a political career, Springer said the practical experience is invaluable for him.

“You get to watch the entire campaign process develop to where you can see yourself running a campaign in the future,” Springer said.

Saurabh Sharma, chairman of UT’s chapter of Young Conservatives of Texas, said he takes civic engagement seriously. Sharma has worked for multiple Republican campaigns, including those of CD 21 candidate Chip Roy, incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz and incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott. He still does door-to-door canvassing on weekends and actively recruits interns for those campaigns.

Sharma said he believes merely talking about his political convictions is not productive. Pouring his own passion into campaign work was the next logical step, he said.

“For me, it was never enough to just talk about what I believe,” biochemistry senior Sharma said. “It’s kind of morally incumbent on me to go out and do what I can. It’s an obligation really … like if you really believe in your ideas so strongly, what are you doing sitting down and not doing anything about it?”

Like Springer and Sharma, Jared Hrebenar, an international relations and global studies senior, is also working on a campaign this election season. He is a co-digital director for Mike Collier, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

Working for Collier’s campaign is a 24/7 commitment, Hrebenar said. A typical weekday for him starts with an 8 a.m. phone call with the campaign team. In between classes, Hrebenar said he’s constantly sending emails, setting up events, managing social media pages and keeping track of the campaign calendar.

Hrebenar said being “the youngest person on the email thread” has never been an issue in a setting where college students are scarce.

“It’s a really cool experience because no one is ever judged for being younger,” Hrebenar said. “We always work to show our worth, to show our value, but we’ve never really been handicapped by the fact that we’re younger. It’s just seen as a novelty sometimes.”

Students at UT can live in a bubble, Sharma said. Talking to voters and understanding the reasons behind their affinity for certain candidates can be enlightening, he said.

“We’re sitting in our ivory towers reading books about political philosophy, but when you go out and block walk, you realize that people don’t think about voting for candidates the way you do,” Sharma said. “It can just be a really humbling experience, and it keeps me grounded.”

Original Article. 


Austin American-Statesman: Will these Texas veterans help rebrand the Democratic Party?

By Maria Recio

When Joseph Kopser introduces himself to voters in the 21st Congressional District as a combat veteran, a successful entrepreneur and a Democrat, he gets double-takes.

“Young man, are you sure you’re not a Republican?” Kopser, who lives in Southwest Austin, said he is asked almost daily. He is running to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, in a district that stretches from Central Austin to the north side of San Antonio and encompasses six Hill Country counties.

Kopser, 47, is one of three military veterans and political newcomers running as Democrats in closely watched congressional races in Central and South Texas. MJ Hegar, 42, a decorated Air National Guard pilot, is running in the 31st Congressional District against U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock; and Gina Ortiz Jones, 37, a retired Air Force intelligence officer is in a tight race against U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, in the 23rd District.

They are among a new breed of Democrat running in Texas and elsewhere who are upending political party stereotypes and appealing to voters who traditionally vote Republican.

“This was our effort early-on,” said Rep. Ben Lujan, R-N.M., the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman, explaining that recruiting military veterans was “part of our strategy” after the 2016 election.

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., a Marine elected in 2014, has been leading the effort to recruit veteran candidates and supports them through his Serve America PAC. “These veterans represent a new generation of leadership for our party and for our country,” he said.

Hegar, in particular, has captured the limelight with her compelling biography: She was awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor for saving the lives of her crew after being shot down during a helicopter rescue mission in Afghanistan in 2009. In a campaign ad, she touts her tattoos, which cover her shrapnel wounds.

“A lot of people think I’m a Republican at first because I’m a veteran,” Hegar told the American-Statesman.

But she tells voters in her district, which encompasses all of Williamson County and most of Bell County, including parts of Fort Hood: “I used to vote for John Carter, too. We’ve both been fooled.”

Disenchanted when Carter wouldn’t meet with her during her effort to force the Pentagon to allow women into combat, Hegar decided to take him on.

She has outraised Carter in the historically Republican district, putting her on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Red to Blue program, which gives money and support to challengers.

Ortiz Jones, an Iraq war veteran, often brings up the challenges of being a lesbian and having to work under the so-called don’t ask, don’t tell policy that closeted gays in the military.

“It’s one of the very formative experiences of my life,” she said of her military service. “I was honored to wear our nation’s cloth.”

Why are veterans good candidates? “We need people to get things done,” she said. “We have a public service mindset. We took the oath to keep our country safe — that’s certainly shaped my desire to run for office.”

The race for the 23rd District, which stretches from the outskirts of San Antonio along the border to El Paso, is getting some high-level attention. Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who won the district in 2016, held a fundraiser Wednesday for Ortiz Jones and four other female congressional candidates in New York. The same day, former President George W. Bush, in one of his first forays into the 2018 elections, headlined a fundraiser for Hurd in Fort Worth.

Veterans and first-time Democratic congressional candidates from Texas to Kentucky are stressing a bipartisan approach.

“My military experience gives me a professionalism to put policy over partisanship and country over party,” Kopser said. “Voters being surprised that Democrats are veterans comes from stereotyping by far-right Republicans who have tried to wrap themselves in the flag.”

Kopser’s opponent is veteran GOP aide Chip Roy, who worked for Gov. Greg Abbott and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. The district is predominantly Republican.

Two Republican veterans from Texas are also making their first run at Congress: former Navy SEAL Dan Crenshaw in the 2nd District, in the Houston area, and state Sen. Van Taylor, R-Plano, in the 3rd District, north of Dallas.

The six veterans from Texas currently serving in Congress are all Republicans: U.S. Reps Brian Babin of Woodville, Mike Conaway of Midland, Louie Gohmert of Tyler, Sam Johnson of Plano, Pete Olson of Sugar Land and Ted Poe of Humble. Johnson and Poe are retiring.

Crenshaw, who faces Democrat Todd Litton, said he identifies himself as a SEAL. “It’s introducing yourself to connect with somebody,” he said. “People don’t trust who they don’t know.”

Crenshaw was severely wounded in Afghanistan and lost his right eye — he usually wears an eye patch.

Taylor, who faces Democrat Lorie Burch, also stresses a bipartisan approach. The military, he says, “teaches you to work with whoever’s there.”

With Honor, a Super PAC supporting 33 congressional candidates nationwide from both parties and requiring a pledge that they will show integrity, civility and courage above politics, has endorsed Hegar, Ortiz Jones, Crenshaw and Taylor but not Kopser.

Democrats, though, believe their message of country over party will resonate in an increasingly polarized Washington run by Republicans.

“Veterans can win where Democrats haven’t traditionally won,” said Jon Soltz, an Iraq war veteran who co-chairs VoteVets.org, a liberal political action committee that is supporting the three Texas Democratic veterans running for Congress. “Who can win over independents? A veteran. Not a career politician.”

Original Article. 


PRESS ADVISORY: Joseph Kopser Continues First in a Generation Town Hall Tour in Real County

PRESS ADVISORY

TO: Interested Parties      

DATE: September 14, 2018

Contact: Madison Kaigh, (726) 999-0176 (madison@kopserforcongress.com)

Joseph Kopser Continues First in a Generation Town Hall Tour in Real County

(Leakey, TX) -- This Sunday, Joseph Kopser will meet voters in Real County for a TX-21 town hall. Kopser, a 20-year Army Veteran, tech entrepreneur, and candidate for Congress in TX-21, will sit down with Hill Country residents to answer their questions and learn more about their concerns.

Kopser was an early signer of the Town Hall Project’s pledge, and has committed himself to holding a minimum of four town halls per year if elected. During the General Election, Kopser has previously held town halls in Kendall, Kerr, Gillespie, Blanco, Bandera, and Comal Counties. Ahead of Sunday’s event, Kopser released the following statement.

“Voters across this district are sick and tired of politics as usual. They’re hungry for real representation, and searching for the candidates and elected officials who will be accessible and accountable to their constituents. That’s what our campaign is offering, and why our TX-21 town hall tour is taking us back to counties like Real that have too often been overlooked by Washington.

“Bringing calm to the chaos of DC means really getting to know the voters of your district and listening to their concerns. That’s why I’m holding town halls in each of the ten counties, and why I’ve invited my opponents to do the same.”

Kopser’s campaign has repeatedly asked Roy for open, accessible debates in all ten counties of TX-21, through public statements and social media. Details for Saturday’s event are below.

Real County Town Hall with Joseph Kopser

September 16, 2018

2:30pm - 4:00pm

74 W Ranch Road 337, Leakey, TX 78873

Facebook event | Campaign website

The town hall will be open to press. Please contact Madison at madison@kopserforcongress.com with questions or to RSVP.

Background:

Joseph Kopser is a 20-year Army veteran, technology entrepreneur, husband and father of three daughters, and Democratic nominee for Congress in TX-21. His candidacy is driven by concern for the future of our country and the path Washington leadership is taking. He is building a new coalition of voters who believe the values, priorities, and expectations of Texas’ 21st congressional district will serve as a model of service and representation for Texas and the United States.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Kopser for Congress Releases First Broadcast Ads of General Election

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TO: Interested Parties

DATE: September 13, 2018

Contact: Madison Kaigh, (726) 999-0176 (madison@kopserforcongress.com)

Kopser for Congress Releases First Broadcast Ads of General Election

(San Antonio, TX) -- Today, Joseph Kopser’s campaign is releasing their first television ads of the general election. Kopser, a 20-year Army veteran, businessman, and candidate for Congress in TX-21, has spent over 18 months traveling throughout the district participating in town halls, meet & greets, and community events to share his history of independent leadership. He will continue to share that message with the new ad, called “The Aisle”

“I’ve crossed oceans and deserts in service to this country. I can absolutely cross a political aisle if that’s what it takes to get things done for Texans, and I’m not afraid to stand up to the leaders of both parties to do it.

“That’s the message we want the people of TX-21 to hear. From standing up to leadership in the Army, to securing back pay and hazardous duty pay for my fellow soldiers overseas, to fixing the transportation issues I saw at home by founding my own business, I’ve spent my life solving problems. And that’s why I’m running for Congress--to solve the problems I see in Washington and get the job done for Texans.”

The spot is available online here.

Background:

“The Aisle” is part of a six-figure communications buy targeting voters in the Austin and San Antonio media markets.

Joseph Kopser is a 20-year Army veteran, technology entrepreneur, husband and father of three daughters, and Democratic nominee for Congress in TX-21. His candidacy is driven by concern for the future of our country and the path Washington leadership is taking. He is building a new coalition of voters who believe the values, priorities, and expectations of Texas’ 21st congressional district will serve as a model of service and representation for Texas and the United States.

Transcript:

NARRATOR: A West Point graduate, Joseph Kopser served 20 years in the military, two combat tours in Iraq. Returning home, Kopser founded a successful technology company, creating Texas jobs, and helped build a non-profit for other veterans to start their own businesses. Joseph Kopser.

JOSEPH KOPSER: I've crossed oceans and deserts to defend our country. Believe me, I can cross an aisle if that's what it takes to solve our problems in Washington, and I'm not afraid to stand up to leaders in both parties to do it. I'm Joseph Kopser, and I approve this message.

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PRESS ADVISORY: For Sixth of Ten TX-21 Town Halls, Joseph Kopser to Visit Comal County

PRESS ADVISORY

TO: Interested Parties

DATE: September 7, 2018

Contact: Madison Kaigh, (726) 999-0176 (madison@kopserforcongress.com)

For Sixth of Ten TX-21 Town Halls, Joseph Kopser to Visit Comal County

(Canyon Lake, TX) -- This Saturday, Joseph Kopser will continue his first-in-a-generation town hall tour across TX-21 with an event in Comal County. Kopser, a 20-year Army Veteran, tech entrepreneur, and candidate for Congress in TX-21, will sit down with voters to answer their questions and learn more about their concerns.

Kopser was an early signer of the Town Hall Project’s pledge, and has committed himself to holding a minimum of four town halls per year if elected. During the General Election, Kopser has previously held town halls in Kendall, Kerr, Gillespie, Blanco, and Bandera Counties. Ahead of Saturday’s event, Kopser released the following statement.

“At all of our town halls to date--in Bandera, Blanco, Gillespie, Kendall, and Kerr Counties--we’ve heard that regardless of political party, the people of this district are tired of the politics of division. Democrats, Republicans, and Independents want to elect a new generation of independent leaders who will bring calm to the chaos we see in Washington. As we pass the halfway point of these ten events, we are grateful to all of the concerned citizens who have spent their evenings and weekends with us.

“There’s something else we hear across this district--folks want to get to know every candidate in this race but have not had the opportunity to meet my opponents or hear us debate the issues. That’s why I’ve accepted every debate invitation I’ve received and unsuccessfully encouraged my opponents to do the same. I’ve also offered to open up our town halls to them and their supporters for a proper discussion of the issues. These events are meant to educate the candidates and the community. I can’t imagine a better use for them.”

Kopser’s campaign has repeatedly asked Roy for open, accessible debates in all ten counties of TX-21, through public statements and social media. Details for Saturday’s event are below.

Comal County Town Hall with Joseph Kopser

September 8, 2018, 3:00pm - 5:00pm

Tye Preston Memorial Library

16311 S Access Rd, Canyon Lake, TX 78133, USA

Facebook event | Campaign website

The town hall will be open to press. Please contact Madison at madison@kopserforcongress.com with questions or to RSVP.

Background:

Joseph Kopser is a 20-year Army veteran, technology entrepreneur, husband and father of three daughters, and Democratic nominee for Congress in TX-21. His candidacy is driven by concern for the future of our country and the path Washington leadership is taking. He is building a new coalition of voters who believe the values, priorities, and expectations of Texas’ 21st congressional district will serve as a model of service and representation for Texas and the United States.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Joseph Kopser Releases Statement on Chip Roy's Failed Health Care Record

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TO: Interested Parties

DATE: September 5, 2018

Contact: Madison Kaigh, (726) 999-0176 (madison@kopserforcongress.com)

 

Joseph Kopser Releases Statement on Chip Roy's Failed Health Care Record

 

(Austin, TX) -- Today, oral arguments will begin in the Republican lawsuit to roll back protections for pre-existing conditions. Joseph Kopser--Army veteran, businessman, and candidate for Congress in TX-21--released the following statement.

“Here in Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton and his former employee Chip Roy have made it clear that they aren’t willing to defend Texans with pre-existing conditions. In the Attorney General’s office, Roy worked to gut protections for these Texans. Then, after leaving that office, he turned around and took a secret sweetheart deal that let him stay on his state employee health plan on the taxpayers’ dime--despite his own pre-existing condition.

"I am happy that Chip had access to health care, but I want all Texans to have that access to health care without resorting to secret deals with Ken Paxton.

“There are 328,700 people in TX-21 living with pre-existing conditions. I’m calling on Chip Roy to stand up for these Texans and affirm what we all believe; that they deserve access to the very same care he received.”

Tonight, Joseph will participate in a rally to show support for the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions. He will join fellow candidates from 6:00 - 7:30pm at the Texas AFL-CIO at 1106 Lavaca St. in Austin.

Background:

Joseph Kopser is a 20-year Army veteran, technology entrepreneur, husband and father of three daughters, and Democratic nominee for Congress in TX-21. His candidacy is driven by concern for the future of our country and the path Washington leadership is taking. He is building a new coalition of voters who believe the values, priorities, and expectations of Texas’ 21st congressional district will serve as a model of service and representation for Texas and the United States.

 

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KUT: Turning Texas Blue Depends On Mobilizing Latinos. That’s Tougher Than It Sounds.

 

Texas Democrats see an opening during this year’s midterm election. They are hoping to pick up seats in Congress that they haven’t won in a long time, as well as a slew of seats down the ballot. To do that, though, the party will have to get Latinos in Texas – who don’t often go to the polls – to vote in higher numbers.

Joseph Kopser, a Democrat running for an open seat vacated by longtime Republican U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, recently held what he called an “immigration roundtable” in San Antonio.

“I want to learn from you all and I hope we learn from each other,” he told a small group of immigration activists.

The event was an effort to start reaching out to Latino voters in the district, which is a historically red district and includes parts of Austin, San Antonio and the Hill Country. Kopser’s opponent, Republican Chip Roy, is largely expected to win.

During the event, Kopser talked to folks who work with immigrant communities and asked them what they want to see change in the country’s immigration laws.

One of the people who attended this small meeting was Viridiana Carrizales. She grew up in Texas without documentation, but in recent years gained a legal status after getting married.

She said Congress should be looking at ways to give permanent statuses to undocumented immigrants. She said temporary programs like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) are not enough.

“It is inhuman for us to plan our lives in two-year increments,” Carrizales told Kopser. “I cannot ask any of my friends who have DACA status, ‘What do you hope to be in five years?’ Because they cannot think past the expiration date of their DACA.”

Despite the odds, Kopser’s bid for Congress is among several races national Democratic groups are watching. Their hope is higher Latino turnout will help candidates like Kopser this year.

“Latinos are everywhere in Texas,” said Manny Garcia, the Deputy Executive Director of the Texas Democratic Party. “So, the ultimate goal is to bring up turnout everywhere in the state. It’s the only way you win.’

Garcia said this year’s midterms are “an all hands on deck” situation for the party. He said among Democrats there’s a large effort underway to get Latinos mobilized, which is has been an ongoing issue for the party.

People of color make up a majority of the state’s population, but that hasn’t yet translated into Democratic political power in Texas. Garcia said engaging those voters hasn’t been taken seriously enough.

“For a couple of decades now there has been a ‘demographics is destiny’ narrative that has existed,” he said. “And sadly for many of those years, it seems like … communities of color were taken for granted – that basically they were expected to show up whether or not we are producing results.”

Texas has had a growing population of young people and people of color – groups who are more likely to vote for democrats, but Republicans continue to win big in Texas.

In 2016, Republicans won all the statewide offices and President Donald Trump won the state by nine percentage points.

Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez is the executive director of Jolt, a group that’s trying to get young Latinos to vote in Texas, and she says it’s not a given that demographic shifts in Texas will help Democrats.

“Demographics alone are not destiny,” she said. “If they were, Texas would already be a very different place.”

Ramirez said Democrats need to do a better job of reaching Latino voters on the issues that are important to them. She said that’s immigration, education, health care and livable wages.

Furthermore, Democratic candidates and progressive groups around the country need to spend more money registering and engaging Latino nonvoters.

Ramirez said the lack of financial investment in Latino outreach in Texas is one of the biggest reasons the state is still red.

“Too many times Texas serves as an ATM,” she said. “Progressive dollars and dollars invested in the Latino community are sent to places like Florida and they are not invested here in Texas because people don’t see it as a competitive state.

But if national groups actually spent money on Texas, she said, Texas would be a competitive state. And groups would be starting basically from scratch because there’s so little existing infrastructure for getting out the Latino vote. Data from heavily Latino areas, such as the Rio Grande valley, show voter registration numbers are not up a significant amount right now.

“I think there has been a lack of acceptance that who this state is is black and brown people and that they are primarily young,” she Ramirez said, citing projections that one in three voters will be under the age of 30 by 2022.

“That is going to be, and is right now, the largest, the most diverse and the most progressive voting bloc,” Ramirez said. “But the answer that candidates give is, ‘well they don’t vote.’ So they don’t spend money and it’s a cyclical problem. So, the candidates and the party that isn’t willing to spend money on young voters color – are part of the problem.”

Original Article.