It's been a decade since Democrats have been much more than an afterthought in statewide races, but Paul Sadler believes he has the experience and the issues to buck that trend.
Now all he needs is money and exposure.
Sadler, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator, stopped in Big Spring during a swing through West Texas Tuesday, and took the opportunity to explain why people should vote for him rather than his better-known opponent, Republican Ted Cruz.
A South Texas native, Sadler touts his experience as a state representative as his biggest advantage over Cruz.
Sadler was first elected to the Texas Legislature in 1990 and won re-election five times. During his tenure in the state House of Representatives, he was named one of the “Ten Best Texas Legislators” on four occasions by Texas Monthly Magazine, twice received similar honors from the Dallas Morning News and received the John B. Connally Award for Excellence in Edcation by the Just For The Kids Foundation.
He was chairman of the Public Education Committee and Select Committees on State Revenue and Public School Finance and Public School Employee Health Insruance, while also serving on the Judiciary, Pensions and Investments and Health and Human Services committees.
Sadler returned to his private law practice in 2003. In 2008, he became the executive director for the Wind Coalition, a regional trade group of wind power producers that advocates for increased wind resources in Texas.
Earlier this year, he defeated Grady Yarbrough in a runoff election to earn the Democratic Senate nomination.
Sadler said his experience in state office easily trumps that of Cruz.
“(Cruz's) biggest accomplishment is being named Solicitor General of Texas,” Sadler said. “That implies some kind of elected office … but in reality, the office wasn't even created until 1999, when the state Attorney General appointed one of his staff lawyers as Solicitor General, who handles appeals for the AG's office. Voters have been hoodwinked into believing this is some sort of great office.”
Sadler's stance on the issues include:
• Education — He supports decreasing the federal government's influence on public education, while increasing the importance of local school boards and parents. “The federal government should support our schools, not run them,” Sadler said.
• Energy — His experience with the Wind Coalition has convinced Sadler of the importance of developing alternative and renewable sources of energy, while decreasing the United State's dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
• Military — Sadler said he will fight to make sure the U.S. armed forces remain the best trained and most well-equipped in the world. He supports increased funding for the Veteran’s Administration, and job training to help young veterans transition to the civilian workforce.
• Healthcare — Sadler said he will oppose efforts to allow insurance companies to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions and to drop policy-holders who get sick. And he supports the right of parents to keep their children insured until age 26.
Despite facing a better-known and better-financed candidate, Sadler said he is conceding nothing in the upcoming election.
“His name identification is higher than mine, but If I can raise the money to raise my name identification to the same level he has … I simply have to inform the voters on our stances on the issues, then I'll be the leader.”