Gabriel "Gabe" Perales, one of four Republican challengers running in the March 9 primary for a chance to unseat a Democrat in Congressional District 28, believes he made a good showing the last time he vied for that office.
"There were some malfunctioning machines in Hidalgo County, but I got almost 30,000 votes compared to `Ciro` Rodriguez' 70,000 votes."
Perales says Rodriguez benefited from Tony Sanchez' 2002 gubernatorial campaign because voters cast straight Democratic tickets at the polls. This year could be different, as Rodriguez faces Henry Cuellar, a Democrat who served as Secretary of State under Republican Governor Rick Perry.
"The primary issues in District 28 are jobs, but most important is affordable health care," says Perales, a native Laredoan and San Antonio resident. He is working with a physician to get a new health insurance company off the ground, whereby clients who purchase reciprocal insurance could receive a rebate on their premiums at the end of the year.
"It would be like a health savings account, with high deductible and low premiums."
A graduate of St. Mary's University, Perales has a law degree from American University in Washington. He served as the regional director of the Federal Labor Relations Authority in Dallas, and for the past two-and-a-half years was the U.S. administrative law judge in the Social Security office of hearings and appeals, adjudicating disability cases.
Francisco "Kiko" Canseco
Francisco Canseco is a lifelong Laredoan and attorney who has never held public office, but has been active in his community.
"I have a strong desire to serve District 28, which deserves fresh representation from someone who has never been in the political arena and yet understands the political arena," Canseco says. "Right now, I'm conducting my race in the Republican primary, and am totally focused on winning that race; until then I have nothing to say about the Democrats."
Economic development is a priority for Canseco, who added "rural issues are water - two types, underground and river water from the Rio Grande - and the issue of Mexican water to be repaid to the United States. That's a big issue. México owes 350,000 acre feet, that is a huge amount of water."
For comparison, Canyon Lake has the capacity to hold 382,000 acre feet before it flows over the spillway into the Guadalupe River.
Canseco says he would call for a study of the federal government's security program that requires fingerprinting of visitors crossing the U.S.-México border. He charges that the rule would be unevenly and unfairly applied, hurting U.S. businesses that depend on commerce flowing through Laredo and along I-35 to the north.
"There is an enormous amount of trade every day through Laredo. We need an economic impact study of how U.S. Visit will affect trade and commerce before it is implemented."
Chris Bellamy, according to campaign literature, is president of an unnamed non-profit group dedicated to "educating and mentoring community leaders, youth, and faith-based organizations on issues of governance and public policy based on Biblical principles."
The candidate describes himself as a "compassionate conservative who believes in shaping public policy based on the principles of limited government, personal responsibility, strong families, and Christian values."
He champions community, ethics in government, family values and cultural inclusion for all races. He has outlined "comprehensive proposals" to improve public schools through school choice, and promises accurate representation for active duty, retired, guard and reserve veterans with better pay and health care.
If elected, Bellamy says he would be a proponent of prayer in school, lower taxes, faith-based initiatives, "incentivized" immigration, affordable health care, and limited welfare.
"Welfare should be viewed as an opportunity to change the lives of people by empowering them to become independent and to make it on their own by providing job training and assistance in job placement, as well as providing a hand up when needed."
Bellamy originally is from Houston. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1995, and has worked as a schoolteacher and aerospace industry employee. He earned a degree from Wayland Baptist University and holds a master's degree in aeronautical science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and is studying for a doctorate in public policy.
James F. Hopson
James Hopson, according to www.jamesfhopson.com - he is on the campaign trail and couldn't be reached - urges voters to "help show that Texans support President George W. Bush by voting in the Republican primary."
Hopson claims to be the only Republican candidate "that actually lives in the 28th Congressional District. The remaining three candidates live outside the district, which is permitted in Congressional races."
The candidate lists an address in Seguin. He is an attorney, a certified public accountant, certified financial planner, a former college dean and professor - and an Eagle Scout.
"I support further tax relief and reform to spur economic growth, control federal spending, and enhance U.S. business competitiveness. In addition, I support rewriting the Internal Revenue Code, making it simpler and fairer to all taxpayers," Hopson says on his web site. "Furthermore, publicly-traded corporations should not be subsidized at the expense of small businesses and workers." •