DMN Coverage

Editorial Covering the Race

3rd Congressional District
Area could benefit from Johnson's seniority

Published: February 7, 2004

It's encouraging to see a bright, articulate challenger like Brian Rubarts take on an incumbent in his own party's primary. Still, Republican voters in the 3rd Congressional District would be smart to return former Air Force fighter pilot Sam Johnson to the U.S. House to take full advantage of his seniority on the powerful Ways and Means Committee.


As a 32-year-old information technology manager, Mr. Rubarts would offer fresh ideas on stemming the export of American jobs and other economic issues important to his district, which includes areas in Dallas and Collin counties hit hard by the technology industry's woes. In many ways, Mr. Rubarts is a younger, more energetic version of Mr. Johnson.


The Republican challenger hopes to focus on term limits before the March 9 primary (which will decide the seat, since there is no Democrat in the race). And he is right to argue forcefully that Mr. Johnson has reversed himself on this issue. Mr. Johnson campaigned in 1992 on the notion that the U.S. House should be made up of citizen lawmakers, not professional politicians.


Still, as much as we like Mr. Rubarts, it only makes sense to turn out an incumbent if the challenger's positions are significantly better. And that's not the case here. Both Plano men want to remove mass-transit projects from the federal Highway Trust Fund and have them fight for attention in general appropriations. That wouldn't help North Texas, which badly needs a seamless transit system. Also, both candidates support last year's energy bill, which hurt rather than helped the region's clean air efforts.


Yet, despite those misgivings, there are many areas where we have been pleased with the 73-year-old Mr. Johnson's work in Congress. As a member of the party leadership, Mr. Johnson helped pass a Medicare reform bill last year. He also supported a compromise tax plan that is saving taxpayers $350 billion. And he pushed for a joint resolution in Congress to limit the growth in federal spending.


Mr. Johnson has been a tireless champion of military families and veterans since he was first elected in 1991. And his important committee assignments and his seniority within his party are pluses for the 3rd Congressional District. We expect him to fight harder to control spending and help North Texas clean its air if voters return him to office. As for Mr. Rubarts, we hope he tries for elective office again, though perhaps on the local or state level first.Previously: We recommended Victor Carrillo for Texas Railroad Commission; Toby Goodman for District 93 state representative; John Wiley Price for Dallas County Commissioners Court; Danny Chandler for Dallas County sheriff; Larry Keilberg for District 90 state representative; Paul Green for Supreme Court; Lawrence Meyers, Cheryl Johnson and Michael Keasler for Court of Criminal Appeals; Bill Zedler for District 96 state representative; Glenn Lewis for District 95 state representative; Lupe Valdez for Dallas County sheriff.


Coming soon: Recommendations for other North Texas congressional primaries.

Candidate questionnaire: To read each candidate's questionnaire - without a filter or interpretation - go to, click on Candidate Quiz and scroll through the responses.


The secretary of state's office oversees elections in Texas. Information is available by calling 1-800-252-8683, as well as through the office's Web site,, which links to other sites. Making the

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