By Mitch Borden
Republican August Pfluger and Democrat Jon Mark Hogg are vying for Texas D-11’s open seat in the House of Representatives, left vacant by longtime GOP congressman Mike Conaway. The district covers the Permian Basin hubs Midland and Odessa as well as San Angelo, and stretches almost into North Texas.
The large district faces a variety of issues, but the future of the oil and gas industry tops the list for both candidates. However, the candidates offer drastically different plants to help the region recover from a terrible year in the oil patch.
To listen to both candidate’s conversations with Marfa Public Radio head down to the bottom of the page.
After Rep. Conaway announced last summer that he would not seek reelection, ten candidates threw their hats in the ring for the Republican nomination. The region is a conservative stronghold, which isn’t surprising with the oil and gas industry being central to its economy and Midland being the childhood home of former President George W. Bush.
August Pfluger quickly became the front runner in the Republican primary. Originally from San Angelo, the Air Force veteran and former fighter jet pilot landed an endorsement from President Trump, which helped him narrowly avoid a runoff.
Pfluger says his main priority is defending the oil and gas industry from what he characterizes as attacks from the Left, such as the Green New Deal, and former Vice President Joe Biden’s plan to get the United States to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Pfluger also says defense and agriculture will be subjects he focuses on heavily if elected to Congress. He’s in favor of deregulation and says Washington should work to ensure that businesses have a fair playing field to operate in as they recover from the recent economic downturn. When it comes to the pandemic, Pfluger says actions taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus should be left to local leaders rather than the federal government.
Jon Mark Hogg, a San Angelo attorney and the Democratic candidate for CD-11, doesn’t see how the energy industry and the broader economy can begin to recover while the coronavirus runs rampant. For him, COVID-19 is the biggest issue facing West Texas and the country. Hogg is mindful that one representative in the House can’t get a lot done on their own but says he would work to get communities the resources they need to control the pandemic and safely get people back to work.
On the energy side of things, Hogg says he supports the oil and gas industry. Specifically, he would like to explore ways of stabilizing oil prices so West Texans can avoid the worst impacts of the boom and bust cycle. He’d also like to see more alternative energy get developed in West Texas. He doesn’t believe the Permian needs to choose between developing renewables and fracking, but rather says that both can be a priority.
Rural healthcare is also a central part of Hogg’s platform. Some of the issues he’d like to take on as CD-11’s congressman is making sure small communities can keep their hospitals open, working to provide more broadband to rural areas and expand telehealth resources.
To hear more from both candidates, listen to their conversations with Marfa Public Radio’s Permian Basin Reporter Mitch Borden below.