Rep. Pete Sessions expected to win House seat in District 17

Rick Kennedy (Left) and Pete Sessions (Right) campaign as they compete for the 17th U.S. House District in Texas. Sessions is favored in the Republican-heavy district. Photos courtesy of the Rick Kennedy and Pete Sessions campaigns.

By Sarah Pinkerton | Staff Writer

Texas’ U.S. House of Representatives 17th District stretches across a population of 710,793 people in central Texas from Waco to College Station.

It is just one of 36 districts in Texas and has three individuals running for the two-year term in Washington, D.C.

The candidates include Republican Pete Sessions, Democrat Rick Kennedy and Libertarian Ted Brown.

Dr. Patrick Flavin, associate professor of political science, said that Pete Sessions is most likely to win this election.

“It is a Republican-leaning district so it’s about tentatively 10 percentage points Republican,” Flavin said.

Flavin said that if Kennedy were to win, it would be evidence of a “nationwide Democratic tsunami.”

“If Democrats won in this district, that would suggest that they’re winning in other heavily Republican-leaning districts, so it would a good night for Democrats and a very bad night for Republicans,” Flavin said.

He said that Texas has gotten a lot of national attention this year because there are several competitive House seats across the state.

“Not that many House seats are competitive if you look nationwide — probably less than 10% of the seats,” Flavin said.

However, he said that if Trump loses the re-election, Sessions may not have a lot of power in the House.

“They have a Democratic president, possibly a Democratic senate, probably a Democratic House. When you’re a minority member in the House, you don’t have a whole lot of say,” Flavin said.

Flavin said that he believes the Democrats will most likely maintain their overall majority in the U.S. House.

While Republican incumbent Bill Flores will not be running for re-election this cycle, he has held office since 2010 after beating incumbent Democrat Chet Edwards.

During Flores’ time in office, he was selected to serve as Chair of the Republican Study Committee, served on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Committee on the Budget.

Republican nominee Pete Sessions was born in Waco and served as a Congressman from 1996 to 2018 and as the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee from 2009-2012.

According to his website, Sessions aims to keep the Second Amendment and has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund.

He also wants to overturn a bill that denied parents the right to stop their children from obtaining sex-change operations, is anti-abortion rights, pro-farmer and rancher and aims to reduce the number of non-citizens on welfare.

Sessions plans to put the Trump Public Charge Rule, which allows the government to deny visas or permission to enter to immigrants who have disabilities or lack of economic resources, into law as well and enforce it in the future. He supported President Trump 98% of the time from 2017 to 2018.

He additionally wants to re-take the Republican majority in the House, remove Nancy Pelosi as speaker, refrain from tax increases and increase border security.

Democratic nominee Rick Kennedy has lived in Central Texas for over 10 years and his oldest child currently attends Baylor University.

According to his website, he is a software engineer and project manager.

“It’s time for a new generation of representatives in Congress,” Kennedy’s website said. “It’s time for voters to demand leaders who respect the viewpoints of all their constituents and who will work to unite us based on being Americans, not exploit our differences for personal gain.”

According to his website, Kennedy hopes to, along with other things, achieve universal healthcare coverage, support a carbon dividend and fee policy to combat climate change, lower interest rates on student loans and bring internet access to every home and business.

He also wants to end militarization in police forces and implement high-end training for police.

Additionally, Kennedy aims to secure the borders while offering a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants while he aims to “treat all asylum seekers with basic human dignity and respect.”

Cleburne sophomore Caleb Barkman said that while the emphasis is typically on presidential elections, congressman and state representatives affect the public more.

“It’s a weird disproportion of how much coverage each election gets and how much it affects you,” Barkman said.

He said that while he believes the power of the president has increased over the years, it does not compare to the legislative power that Congress holds.

“The legislature are the people who write the laws,” Barkman said. “The president just approves of it and enforces them.”