The last time a Republican won the 16th Congressional District seat was in 1963, but two El Paso Republicans are trying to change that.
Rick Seeberger and Alia Ureste-Garcia are on the GOP ticket for the El Paso Republican primary in the heated race to replace U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke. The winner will face the Democratic nominee in the general election on Nov. 6.
Early voting in the March 6 primary starts Tuesday.
“Nobody has thrown eggs or tomatoes,” Seeberger said. “My target is to reach the undecided voters or those who are frustrated with (decades) of Democratic leadership.”
Adolpho Telles, chairman of the El Paso County Republican Party, said one of the biggest challenges the El Paso GOP faces every election is straight-ticket voting. In the 2016 general election, 100,539 El Pasoans voted straight-ticket for Democratic candidates, according to county elections data.
Both candidates did not fare well in fundraising. As of Dec. 31, Seeberger raised $5,370 and Ureste raised $165, according to the most recent campaign finance reports. That compares to a combined $1.4 million raised by Democratic frontrunners Veronica Escobar and Dori Fenenbock.
The Republican candidates raised concerns about government spending and both say they support expanding services for small business to help create jobs and expand the country’s tax base.
Seeberger, an El Paso businessman, is focusing on attracting renewable energy and technology jobs to the Borderland and advocating for border security.
He said the federal government should not cancel all student debt as some on Capitol Hill have proposed. He believes the immigration system needs to be reformed and border security tightened.
As the Trump administration renegotiates NAFTA, Seeberger said the 24-year-old trade agreement needs to be updated to account for technological change.
“It’s in the best interest of all three nations to trade,” he said.
Ureste, a member of the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Committee, is focused on immigration.
She said the federal government should wait before it decides to deport recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. Ureste said the federal government should make sure they are not ancestors of original landowners in Texas who were forced out of their land.
“The land grants and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo – contracts should’ve been honored,” she said. “There was never a true vetting process.”
Ureste is also focused on creating opportunities for small businesses.
She said she supports the president’s plan for a wall but not all the way across the U.S.-Mexico border. She proposes the use of “smart wall” technology instead of a wall where a physical barrier would not be practical. The last Republican elected to the 16th Congressional District seat was Ed Foreman.