By Sarah Pinkerton | Staff Writer, Video by Tim Longoria | Broadcast Reporter
Republican Pete Sessions was elected Tuesday night to the U.S. House of Representatives for Texas’ 17th Congressional district.
With 88% of polls reporting, Sessions won with 56.2% of the vote while his opponent, Democrat Rick Kennedy, brought in 40.6% of the vote.
Libertarian candidate, Ted Brown, brought in 3.1% of the vote.
Sessions celebrated his 16% lead at the Salty Dog restaurant on Valley Mills Tuesday night.
Sessions said that being from Waco means that he is in touch with Baylor. He feels this gives him an advantage as Waco is in the center of the district.
He said he feels the reason people support him is because he stands for, “stability, economic growth, rule of law, supporting the men and women of law enforcement, making sure that I understand trade deals that are important to the Texas Farm Bureau, our men and women in agriculture.”
During his acceptance speech, Sessions said he has made a commitment to go back to every county in the district to listen to the citizens.
“What am I going to listen for?” Sessions said. “I’m going to listen for their ideas, I’m going to listen for them to know more about the ideas that I think that are important. We need answers on social security, on spending, on taxes, on immigration, we need ideas about healthcare.”
He also said the Republican party is seeking new members.
“The Republican party wants to take people who maybe did not agree with the national party and work with us to still make Texas so much stronger,” Sessions said.
Democrat Rick Kennedy said he was disappointed by the outcome, but wants to wish Congressman Sessions the best during his term.
“I hope to see him begin the process of restoring the United States Congress as a truly independent and functional branch of the federal government,” Kennedy said. “Congress is just too divided, too hyper partisan and too beholden to the Executive Branch these days.”
He said it is too early to say if he will run again in the next election.
“It’s a redistricting year so gosh only knows what the states going to look like for 2022,” he said. “But even more importantly than that, I’ve got family and kids that go through a lot when you’re running for the United States congress.”
During his election night watch party on Zoom, Kennedy gave his concession speech in which he wished Sessions good luck, thanked his supporters and family and discussed his motivation to run for the seat.
“To everybody who supported me with their vote tonight and over the last three weeks, thank you so much,” Kennedy said. “For those of you who didn’t, who voted for Congressman Sessions, I thank you too for participating in the process,”
Sessions, a Waco native, served as a Congressman from 1996 until 2018 and also served on the National Republican Congressional Committee from 2009 to 2012.
According to his website, he supported President Trump 98% of the time from 2017 to 2018 and aims to put the Trump Public Charge rule into play while in office. This would allow the government to deny visas or permission for immigrants with disabilities or lack of economic resources to enter the country.
His website additionally states his desire to remove Nancy Pelosi from her position, refrain from tax increases and increase border security.
He also wants to support the Second Amendment, overturn a bill that denied parents the right to stop their children from obtaining sex-change operations, will not support the right to an abortion and wants to decrease the number of Americans on welfare.
The United States House of Representatives 17th District is home to McLennan County and is one of 36 districts in Texas.
Unlike the Senate, the U.S. House bases its representation on the state’s population, giving Texas 36 districts due to its large population while giving less populous states, like Alaska, one district.
Republican incumbent Bill Flores has been in office since 2010 but did not run for reelection this cycle.
Kennedy supports universal healthcare coverage, supports a carbon dividend and fee policy to combat climate change, wanted to lower interest rates on student loans and bring internet access to every home and business.
He also wanted to end militarization in police forces and implement a change in training for police in addition to securing the border with a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Sessions will serve the 17th District in the House for two years.