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Sarver, Kopser to replace Smith

Congressional District 21 in Texas has known no representative other than Republican Rep. Lamar Smith since he won the seat in 1987 — a seat with district lines historically gerrymandered to heavily favor the GOP. Democrats are hoping that Smith’s retirement announcement last year and a blue wave driven by anti-Trump sentiments overcome that high hurdle in this election.

In fact, a lot of hopes are soaring in this election. Eighteen hopefuls are competing in the GOP primary, and four on the Democratic side.

We recommend Jenifer Sarver, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, in the GOP primary, and retired Army officer and businessman Joseph Kopser, a Bronze Star winner for meritorious service, in the Democratic primary.

In many respects, the primary and general elections here might be a bellwether for how contests unfold nationwide for both parties. The two who win their party nominations in these races — a runoff is likely on the GOP side because of the number of candidates — are likely to be showered with national money to keep the district red or flip it blue. Both Sarver and Kopser represent trends that both parties might do well to emulate going forward.

In Sarver, we see a genuine conservative with limited government, pro-life sentiments who — unlike most of her GOP colleagues in this election — has been forthright in her distaste for President Trump. Voters will get someone who adheres to traditional Republican stances but is not willing to turn a blind eye to Trump’s divisive actions.

She calls for a return to civility in Congress and in the nation, and is willing to call out the president when he crosses those lines. At least two other candidates on the GOP side have similar views, but we give the nod to Sarver because of her government experience working with Hutchison, as executive director of a program working with the University of Texas System in Washington, D.C., and her time in the U.S. Commerce Department. [emphasis added]

In Kopser, who sold a startup to a major car manufacturer and works to help veterans, we see a candidate who shares many of the progressive views of his Democratic colleagues in this race, but who has business and military savvy that is likely to attract broader support.

The Republican Party is going through tumult, but the Democratic Party is going through similar convulsion, with a heavy push leftward. That might work in many other congressional districts. It’s difficult to see how it would in this district.

Kopser’s campaign suffered from a charge of plagiarism after the Huffington Post published a story pointing to large portions on his website that copied other sources unattributed. The campaign blamed this on sloppy staff work. That’s believable, and with Kopser’s record, we don’t see this as disqualifying.

In Sarver and Kopser we see traditional party virtues embodied but also see how either could be unifying, open-minded fits for this district.