Republican candidate visits the Big Bend

PRESIDIO COUNTY – Raul Reyes Jr. made his first campaign stops in Marfa and Presidio this Tuesday, following his declaration of candidacy for United States Congress in the 23rd district of Texas, a seat currently held by the retiring Will Hurd.

In his town halls, and afterward in a conversation with The Sentinel, Reyes stuck to what he called a “two pillar” platform. “Our goal is two-fold: to secure the border and make Texas 23 prosperous again,” he told a gathering of three at the Paisano Hotel in Marfa.

If elected, Reyes, a dyed-in-the-wool conservative, would likely be much more supportive of President Donald Trump’s policies than Hurd, who at times took on the role as Republican adversary of the President. To start, Reyes wants to build whatever wall Border Patrol asks for on the grounds that they’re the ones with boots on the ground. He’s less interested in the “virtual wall” of technology that Hurd has proposed.

His platform checks a number of red-meat conservative boxes. He believes the media is overhyping talks of an economic recession for political reasons. He supports Trump’s sweeping deregulations.

“I’m 100% pro-life and I’ll defend the Second Amendment 100%,” Reyes declared at one point in the Marfa town hall.

One of the three attendees was Gregory Romeu, who led the “Second Amendment Sanctuary” discussion in County Commissioners Court and is currently planning a gun show at the Marfa Activity Center this November. He quickly persuaded Reyes to hold his next campaign stop in Marfa during the gun show, believing it would host a big overlap of potential Reyes voters.

The candidate does share common ground with his Democratic opponents, at least on one front: He wants to generate jobs in the rural region, which he said would help “Texas families stay together along the border.” His goal is to use his experience as a business owner, along with political connections, to bring manufacturing and industry into the area. Reyes worries that if citizens can’t get stable jobs with 401ks, they’ll ultimately grow old and rely on Social Security and other government safety nets.

When asked by a reporter about the El Paso Massacre, he called it “a travesty” and said he had posted on his campaign’s Facebook page that his thoughts and prayers were with the people of El Paso and Dayton, Ohio. But he reinforced his opposition to “red flag laws,” which are policies that allow law enforcement or family members to petition to remove guns from anyone deemed dangerous to themselves or others.

“At the federal level, we ought to start looking at the real reason for why these things happen.” he said. “Is it mental illness? Drugs?”

“Look at that instead of reacting emotionally to the guns, guns, guns,” he added.