Last week I posted a profile of Matt Beebe, a conservative taking on the daunting task of unseating an establishment Republican in San Antonio. This week, I’m pleased to share another such conservative: Richard Morgan, a 24-year-old software engineer from Dallas. He’s running against Congressman Lamar Smith, who has been in office longer than Morgan has even been alive.
If you’ve met or heard of Morgan before, you know there’s one thing he’s passionate about: preventing bills like the Stop Online Piracy Act from hitting the House floor ever again. An active member of the Dallas Young Republicans, Morgan was so “frustrated” with SOPA, he quit his job to run for office against Smith, the bill’s author. He hopes to use the outrage at this bill felt by the American people – especially young people – to unseat the 13-term congressman. Check out what Morgan had to say about his campaign so far:
Q: Other than SOPA, what are some key issues that set you apart from Lamar Smith?
SOPA is just one of many examples of our differences. I [also oppose] PCIP, which would require every internet service provider (ISP) to store every customer’s name, address, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and IP addresses for a year so that the government can essentially track everyone’s online activity. Never mind that the cost of compliance would put small and rural ISPs out of business, causing many people to lose access to the Internet. He has also argued that emails are not protected by the Fourth Amendment, meaning the government can read them if it wants.
Regarding individual liberty, my opponent voted for the NDAA, which lets the government arrest American citizens and hold them indefinitely without the right to a trial. He very recently voted for HR 347, which criminalizes free speech under certain circumstances. Regarding fiscal discipline, he voted for seven debt ceiling increases, taking us from a $4 trillion debt to an $11 trillion debt. He voted for TARP. He voted for No Child Left Behind, which by most counts has been a failure and which I oppose because it’s not the federal government’s role or responsibility. He voted to raise the minimum wage, which puts a larger burden on our businesses and drives those jobs overseas. For two people running in the same party, there’s a lot that we disagree on.
Q: How are you preparing to go up against such a powerful, financially stable incumbent?
There’s no question my opponent is a powerful person with a lot of money, but all the money in the world does not change his voting record. My challenge is simply to show Republican primary voters that he does not have a conservative record. I don’t need to outspend him; I just need to spend enough to get the message out. I’m confident that when people learn the truth about him, they’ll be ready to embrace someone new. I’m the only true conservative in the race
Q: What’s the best way people can help the campaign, whether they live in the district or not?
Spread the word to everyone you know. It doesn’t matter where they live, because this race is about protecting the basic freedoms that all Americans enjoy. If you live in the district, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll put you to work! If you don’t live here, there will be virtual phone banking in place soon, and you could help by making phone calls in your free time. Please also consider donating to the campaign. No amount is too small. $5 buys two yard signs.
So many people refuse to participate because they don’t like politics or they don’t realize they can make a difference, but the reality is by staying quiet, our opponents win. There are great candidates at every level who desperately need help spreading the word. Learn to defend your positions. Earn the respect of your peers. Soon you’ll realize that you’re having a much bigger impact than just one vote. You’ll learn new skills, and you’ll make a lot of great friends along the way. I highly recommend it.
My thoughts: Some have dismissed Morgan’s campaign, saying it’s silly to “crucify” a candidate based on one bad bill, but SOPA is too big an issue to be ignored. The way I see it, SOPA represents either a) a fundamental misunderstanding of how the Internet works or b) a major deviation from conservative values. Both are inexcusable. If the second is true, Smith is clearly not the right candidate. If the first, even worse, Smith championed legislation he didn’t understand – something no representative should ever do.
Like Beebe’s race against Straus, I could almost see this going the way of Scott Brown’s 2010 Senate victory in Massachusetts. If Morgan can get his name and agenda out for voters to see, he could gain support nationwide – especially since over 40 major (and well-funded) tech companies came out in opposition to SOPA.
Winning Bexar County will be tough, but Morgan says he’s ready: “I’m confident we’ll win if we work hard… Ultimately, politics is where I feel called to spend my life, so whether I’m in office, working for another candidate, or organizing at the grassroots level, I’ll be wherever I can make the biggest impact.”