DMN Coverage

Editorial About the Challenge

Open Up
Local GOP faithful should welcome Johnson's challenger

Published: February 13, 2004

Apparently, many people active in the local Republican Party are not too happy that Sam Johnson is having to waste time and energy getting re-elected, of all things. They don't seem to appreciate that the challenge brought by Brian Rubarts of Plano offers a chance to have full, fair and robust debate.


That's odd, because in this Republican-dominated bastion of free-market principles, you might expect people to be annoyed only if there were no opposition stepping forward.


Therefore, it's worth remembering that Mr. Johnson defeated 10 candidates, including seven other Republicans, to first win his seat in Congress in 1991.


Where is that level of competition now? Even though it makes political sense to begin a political career at a stage lower than Congress, those active in the party should not frown on any grass-roots challenge, no matter how strongly you want to return an incumbent to office.


In an editorial last week, the editorial board recommended Mr. Johnson over his opponent, partly because we agree that his seniority, primarily on the Ways and Means Committee, can help make a difference. He is an unapologetic champion of limited spending, and he needs to be on that powerful committee. Besides, on key areas where we do not agree with Mr. Johnson, Mr. Rubarts does.


But we were very impressed with Mr. Rubarts' passion, knowledge of the issues and fresh perspective. The 32-year-old information technology manager offers new ideas on stemming the export of American jobs and other economic issues important to his district, which includes areas in Collin County hit hard by the technology industry's woes.


Ironically, one of Mr. Johnson's major issues in his first bid for office was term limits. He once said 12 years was enough time in Congress for anyone.


He has since changed his mind, because, as he says, it's better to give power to people who have to go back before voters every two years rather than to professional Washington insiders.


That's a good point, and to be a truly persuasive argument, one has to assume that every two years members of Congress will face opposition. Every two years will not be a referendum on current leadership, but also a choice between two or even eight or 11 candidates.


That's why it's important to pay attention to this race in the coming weeks.

It should offer voters an interesting choice.


After all, a race without serious opposition, without new ideas or new perspectives, would be a disservice to voters.


Learn More

To find out more about the candidates, visit their Web sites:

*Brian Rubarts: www.rubarts

*Sam Johnson: www.samjohnson

Copyright 2004 The Dallas Morning News