Conservatives across the country are scrambling to take back the Republican party from the political class. However, there are so many inherent challenges in unseating entrenched establishment Republicans who enjoy superior resources and ubiquitous name ID. Yet, one of the most auspicious opportunities has gone undetected by many in the movement. There is a candidate who is committed to upending the political class and likely has the best chance to succeed of any challenger this cycle. His name is John Ratcliffe; he is running in northeast Texas (Fourth District ) and he deserves our support.
John Ratcliffe reminds us a lot of Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) in many ways. Bridesntine ran against an entrenched Republican on a platform challenging the establishment and pledging term limits. He did so without the support of most national conservative groups, yet he won decisively on election night. Ratcliffe has quietly run an effective campaign against Congressman Ralph Hall (R-TX), the oldest sitting member of Congress, and after less than three months he was able to draw the incumbent into a runoff. Now is the time for conservatives to act.
Congressman Hall is an honorable man and a veteran of World War II. But the contrast between the two candidates could not be any starker. Whereas Hall has turned his position into a career devoid of any desire to fight the status quo, Ratcliffe is picking the arduous path to a congressional seat precisely because he wants to send a message to career politicians.
John Ratcliffe served as a small-town mayor in Heath, Texas from 2004-2012. While every other municipality in Rockwall County raised taxes at least once during the recession years, Ratcliffe balanced the budget without ever raising taxes. During his tenure, the city of Heath’s financial rating was upgraded several times by all of the major credit rating groups to AA. As a popular figure who was urged to run again, Ratcliffe declined, even though there was no law limiting tenure in office.
Ratcliffe also has a wealth of experience in law enforcement and counter-terrorism; he served as Chief of Anti-Terrorism and National Security for Eastern District of Texas from 2004-2007 and was then appointed acting-U.S. Attorney for that same district. During his time as U.S. Attorney, Ratcliffe coordinated the arrest of 300 illegal immigrants in one day and prosecuted many of them for identity theft and Social Security fraud. John will fill the void within the party to fight against amnesty and for strong enforcement of our immigration laws.
John is a smart, articulate, and soft-spoken man who could have chosen an easy path to power. Congressman Hall has already pledged to retire after this next term. He could have gotten a head-start and worked within the system to take over from Hall in two years. Instead, he is challenging a long-serving and well-respected incumbent while pre-emptively pledging term limits. He understands that we cannot waste a solid conservative seat. Texas’ Fourth District should not be without a strong conservative voice in what is going to be the worst two years of the Obama administration.
Ratcliffe articulately sums up the problem with the status quo in the party by noting that too many incumbent Republicans are “conservative philosophically and operationally liberal,” seeking to be “tolerated by their conservative constituents instead of fighting for them.” Ratcliffe notes how hard it is to downsize bureaucracy from his experience trying to shrink a U.S. attorney’s office and a local government. That’s why he is leading by example with self-imposed term limits.
He is tired of the establishment Republicans taking conservative districts and acculturating them to dependency on the federal government. As such, he is committed to phasing out all federal subsidies of local enterprise – subsidies which inevitably come with strings attached. As a successful small-town mayor, Ratcliffe understands that local governments are hamstrung by federal control of functions that are inherently local in nature and will push to devolve those functions to the states.
Ratcliffe’s message is clearly resonating. After just three months of campaigning, he has held one of the longest serving members of Congress – who has never received less than 50% of the vote in any of the 18 counties in the district – to under 50% district-wide. John actually won two counties outright in the first round.
He is on the precipice of turning the tide for the May 27 runoff. If conservatives fail to join the fight we will waste this seat for another two years and run the risk of paving the road for an establishment candidate to replace him in 2016. Or we could rally behind John Ratcliffe and help change leadership immediately. The choice is clear.