With Election Day rapidly approaching, many are primarily focused on the national presidential race between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. However, the race for Central Texas’ local 25th Congressional District election, which stretches all the way from Fort Worth to Austin, could mark a momentous political shift in Texas, depending on the result.
Between current candidates, Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, Democrat Julie Oliver, and Libertarian Bill Kelsey, Oliver takes very progressive stances on many prominent controversies. Oliver, the only candidate with a liberal perspective, might have a shot at winning the predominantly conservative election this time around as she has made significant progress since the last election in 2018.
In 2018, when Oliver ran in the election, Williams’ margin was narrowed by eleven points compared with 2016, but she did still lose the race by more than 26,000 votes. One recent poll from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee shows that Williams is only in the lead by 2 points, 45% to 43%, compared to the 54% to 45% in 2018.
Oliver’s Liberal Agenda
Oliver’s campaign supports Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and a route to attaining citizenship for undocumented immigrants of the United States. She has received endorsements from key figures on her party’s left, such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Julián Castro.
In respect to healthcare, Oliver is very well-versed as she spent a good chunk of her career crunching numbers for a large hospital system in the industry at St. David’s Healthcare. With 20 years of experience in healthcare finance and taxation, she was appointed by the Austin City Council to serve on the board of Central Health, whose mission is to deliver healthcare to low-income Texans.
The healthcare crisis that the nation is facing is also personal for Julie as her mom has fought a chronic illness for the last 15 years of her life and her dad is a veteran who’s battling his own health problems today. Her son was born with a pre-existing heart condition, which means that she’s experienced discrimination from insurance companies that were against providing him with insurance. She “understands the importance of healthcare” and has “seen the impact” it has on those she cares about most.
Oliver has voiced support for criminal justice reform, emphasizing that our current system “does not achieve justice” and that instead, it “exacerbates injustice.” She also claims that we “must fundamentally reform the way that we police our communities in this country” and have “honest conversations about racism, and its role in the excessive use of police force and abuse of power.”
In a tweet on June 23, 2020, she advocates for the arrest of the officers who killed Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old healthcare worker who was sleeping in her own home before police broke in and shot her 8 times. Additionally, Oliver wants to end gun violence in America and believes that every single American “should have the freedom to be safe and to live without fear of gun violence.”
Oliver has focused on addressing the concerns of younger voters by saying she believes that “every student, regardless of their background or skin color, deserves a fair shot at success and a life free from student loan debt.”
Because she was a single mom who relied on Pell grants and worked summer jobs to pay for college, she said she understands the importance of this topic and knows that higher education opportunities aren’t typically afforded to the poor in this country.
To change this she says she supports plans to eliminate all existing student loan debt, expand the Pell grants to cover the non-tuition and fee costs of school, like books, supplies, transportation, and housing, as well as pass the H.R. 3472, which would eliminate tuition and fees at four-year public colleges, trade school and universities and make community college tuition- and fee-free for all.
With regard to immigration, Oliver claims that it’s “time to re-establish our reputation as a country that welcomes the stranger and embraces our shared humanity.” She plans to reform the nation’s immigration system so that it “reflects who we want to be – a country where our fellow human beings are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their immigration status.”
Williams’ Conservative Agenda
On the other hand, Roger Williams has been Texas’ congressman since 2013. In his time as a congressman, he has sponsored two bills. The first bill, H.R. 3213, more commonly known as the Fixed Asset Relief of 2015, was introduced on July 29, 2015. The H.R. 3213 served to “amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to make 100 percent bonus depreciation permanent.” The provisions of this bill were incorporated into the H.R. 2029, which was signed by the President on December 18, 2015.
The second bill, H.R. 3060, was known for designating the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 232 Southwest Johnson Avenue in Burleson, Texas, as the “Sergeant William Moody Post Office Building” in honor of Army Sgt. William Moody who died in Afghanistan in 2013. The bill was enacted and signed by the President on June 9, 2014.
Differing from Oliver’s views on gun control, Williams supports gun rights. He voted no on the H.R. 8, more commonly known as the Background Check Expansion Act, which requires a background check for every firearm sale. “I’m a Texan, a lifetime NRA member, and a gun owner. I don’t want anyone messing with my 2nd Amendment rights, and I won’t allow anyone to mess with yours,” said Williams on the 2012 House campaign website.
Williams, on the basis of immigration, has voted yes to the H.R. 5293, which would ban DREAMer immigrants from military service. He is in favor of making English the official language of the United States. In 2012, Williams said, “While we openly welcome people who follow our laws and are legal immigrants we need to ensure these individuals assimilate to America by learning our language, our rich heritage, and respecting our foundational beliefs.”
According to the most recent FEC disclosure, Williams has more than $1.25 million in campaign cash on hand. Subsequent to his political career, he was the owner of a car dealership, leading him to be the 11th richest member of the House as of 2018.
Conversely, Oliver’s campaign had a fraction of the cash on hand, with just below $90,000 in the bank through the first second of 2020. Although, in the most recent quarter, she outraised Williams by a margin of nearly three to one. In 2018, she ran a 100% PAC-free (Political Action Committee) campaign in which she put approximately 50,000 miles on her car and garnered more votes than any other Democrat in the history of District 25. She continues to run her campaign in this way, not taking a single dime from any PACs or special interest groups.
If Oliver wins the election, it could be game-changing for the Democratic party as it would tip the scales in its direction, picking up a lot of the seats they had targeted across Texas. Oliver’s plans for not only the country, but its future, could pave the way for a striking, momentous shift in the political climate.