An interview with Fighting Dem David T. Harris, Democratic Candidate for US. House Seat TX-06

Timothy Smith
Original Publication Date

Kay Shepherd brings us another live candidate interview from YearlyKos.  She and Timothy Smith team up to record Tim's live interview with Fighting Dem David T. Harris who is running for the House of Representatives seat from Texas - Congressional District 6 against Joe Barton. Visit David's campaign site.

David T. Harris podcast interview

The index of earlier podcasts is at ePMedia Libsyn

Kay Shepherd ePluribus Media: Greeting citizens and welcome to another edition of the ePluribus Media podcast. It’s Thursday, June 22, 2006, and I am your host Kay Shepherd.

Today we bring you another interview recorded at Yearly Kos 2006 in Las Vegas. Fighting Dem David T. Harris, a graduate of the US Army Ranger and Airborne schools who has served 14 months in Iraq with his reserve unit, is taking on 20-year incumbent Joe Barton in Texas’ 6th District.

Barton has represented the Texas 6th since 1985 and, as chair of the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee, was the primary author of the 2005 Energy Policy Act, the final version of which the Washington Post called a “pinata of perks for energy industries.” Those perks included tax breaks, subsidies and exemptions from environmental standards laws -- and this was after the bill’s infamous provisions for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife refuge were stripped out.

More recently, Barton has co-authored, with Illinois’s Bobby Rush the 2006 the Communications Opportunity Promotion and Enhancement Act (aka COPE) which faces opposition for potentially gutting Net Neutrality, the principle by which networks make all web data equally available, at least in theory, regardless of its providers. The elimination of net neutrality, opponents argue, could lead to a cyberspace in which the most accessible Web sites will belong to the content providers who can pay the high speed tolls determined by telecoms.

According to his Web site, Harris is running on principles of strong defense, strong families and equal rights for all citizens. And his campaign centers on issues that extend far beyond this largely rural district. ePMedia correspondent Timothy D. Smith caught up with Harris in the YKos exhibition hall. Here’s what they talked about.

Timothy D. Smith for ePMedia: We are talking today with David Harris who is running for Congress in Texas in Seat 06, which is currently the home of Joe Barton, who is occasionally referred to as being the congressman from Exxon-Mobile. Right?

David T. Harris: Smokey Joe Barton is his official name, designation that he has been given by us.

ePMedia: So you are up against a powerhouse. You are up against a guy who has been in for a long time, who is well settled in his seat.

Harris: He is very comfortable where he is at, on his throne on top of the chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee. He is a 20-year, a 20-plus year Republican incumbent. Has a great of influence. He has been the top money taker from the oil and gas industry and the Telco industry. So he has a lot of corporate interests in his back pocket.

ePMedia: Any Abrahoff ties in there too?

Harris: We can only hope; we can only hope that he gets indicted between now and November.

ePMedia: I understand that this race is actually taking on some national overtones just because of all the things that he is involved in, versus the things that you are advocating. Maybe you could go into some of those things.

Harris: Yeah, absolutely. Joe Barton, like I said, he is chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee. His committee virtually oversees all of the things that affect us on a daily basis. He authored the energy bill which is has been a complete failure for Americans; he just passed through the COPE act, just passed it through the House, basically taking away Net Neutrality. And as a blogger and as an American who enjoys my internet, it’s criminal and we have to do something about it and get people to call their senators and get them involved as far as making a difference in [contacting] the representatives and vote for net neutrality. He just affects a lot of different people in a lot of different ways, and we need to make people well aware of that.

ePMedia: Lets talk about you a little bit more. You mentioned you’re a blogger. You’re also one of the fighting dems, right? Where did you serve?

Harris: I served in Iraq for the initial invasion. I was with the Military Police unit out of Grand Prairie, and I spent – total deployment time – I was mobilized for 14 months with my reserve unit. Our base of operations was in Al-Nasiriyah and we ran convoys and did area security missions. It’s part of the initial invasion; we were over there for that.

ePMedia: And what else about it? Tell me more about yourself. Tell me about David Harris, the person.

Harris: I’m originally from Pennsylvania, but of course from being in the military I’ve moved around the entire country. I’ve been a Democrat my entire life. I’m not a Republican who jumped ship because I saw the iceberg coming. Voted Democrat every place that the army sent me to; I’ve always been politically active.

I met my wife when I was going back to school and getting my degree in government, so both of us have government degrees. In terms for the party in Bell County. and we’ve always been politically active behind the scenes in the state and national campaigns. We were both national delegates in 2004, county, state and national delegates for Texas in 2004. We’ve been around a while. So this isn’t something new.

ePMedia: You put down some roots where you’re at.

Harris: Right.

ePMedia: So you plan to be there for a while.

Harris: Yes.

ePMedia: Tell me about ’06 – what’s the demographics of your district?

Harris: There’s approximately 660,000-plus people in Texas 06, nine counties.

ePMedia: Where’s it located?

Harris: Well, it starts in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and basically runs southeast along the I-45 corridor down through Houston and Trinity counties, in the southeast part of the district.

Some major population centers, but most of the district in the south is very rural.

ePMedia: How do you appeal to the difference between the suburban - you’ve got edges of cities the way you’re describing it – the more suburban voters in your district and those who are hard-core rural, who live in the back of their pickup truck half the year because they’re out on the ranch?

Harris: It’s a very difficult district because this was a product of Tom DeLay and his redistricting in Texas. It was crafted to make it a very heavy Republican-leaning district. We’ve done a precinct by precinct analysis and looked at the 2004 election cycle. I wish I could give you the perfect analysis of how it is from north to south. But in general, it’s very conservative, and they have very conservative outlooks. The thing that breaks down the barriers right away when I talk to them is I’m an Iraqi war veteran, and they’ll at least give me 30 seconds, if they’re a Republican, to make the pitch.

ePMedia: Right.

Harris: They want to hear more, after you say that. We found a lot of the people that we’re talking to, even right in Barton’s backyard, that say “I voted for this guy, 10 years, 15, 20 years, but I’m not going to vote for him any more. Because I contact his office, he doesn’t write back, but he has no problem stuffing my mailbox with his political literature.” I think they’re fed up. I think they’re ready for a change.

ePMedia: What do think are the biggest issues facing your district?

Harris: Of course I have a natural bias. I think one of every American’s top concerns right now is the comprehensive energy policy that’s going to lower our costs. When it comes down to contributing $20 to a political campaign, or putting $20 worth of gas in the car that they have to drive to go to work to earn a living, they default to putting gas in the car. Barton’s energy bill completely caters to the oil and gas industry, gives them 15 million dollars worth of tax breaks to the corporations, but does nothing for the individual American taxpayer to give them some relief, some help, when they go to the pump. It’s not forward thinking. Ethanol just came up as some lightning bolt out of the sky – that issue has been around for a while. It’s just that we have not taken the time to invest money and resources in developing that, long ago. We’ve had 20 years to make that difference -- from one of the states that produces the largest amount of oil in the nation, you would think we’d be leading the charge on that and he hasn’t. He’s failed.

ePMedia: I was talking to Nancy Skinner yesterday. She’s running on a green platform in Oakland county, Michigan, north of Detroit. It’s where all the car executives live and she’s got an interesting coalition of supporters from both labor and the executive side of the auto industry. She’s pitching an idea that would require E 85 or flexifuels to be offered at all gas stations. If congress mandated that they could retool and start producing cars that would use the E85 in a week. It’s that simple to retool. Where do you stand on that sort of thing?

Harris: I think it’s a great idea. Again, it goes back to prioritizing where the money goes. Right now we’re fighting two wars in a foreign country, trying to push through amendments to the Constitution for flag burning and gay marriage, yet[there are] 48 million uninsured Americans, our education system is failing our future, our energy policy is sorely lacking; it’s just a matter of where they want to prioritize their effort and their money. I’m all for it.

Let’s make it happen. If countries around the world that are less wealthy than us can make it happen, why can’t we?

ePMedia: John Conyers, also from Michigan has stated pretty clearly if we win, if democrats get the majority, he’s going to call for a special prosecutor to investigate the WMD situation, and to follow up even more on the whole Plame situation. To find out if congress was lied to regarding WMD in the rush up to war. One would think if indeed that were found, that impeachment hearings would then follow. Where do you think you would stand on that?

Harris: I would like to have a crystal ball to see into the future, but again, I think it’s important, the reason why we have three separate branches of government is for that system of checks and balances. This administration has done nothing except to erode the checks and balances of [the] most progressive document, that’s ever been written in history. Our founding fathers were so progressive in creating and shaping that document, because they knew abuse of power and influence could happen, and that’s exactly what you’re seeing now.

If and when that does come to fruition, and we do take the majority in the house in November, and I’m part of that organization, of course I will look at all the facts that are presented before me and I will vote accordingly. And I’ll vote according to how my constituents want me to vote, and not how the corporation interests want me to vote, or along party lines. I have the ability as an individual to have independent thought, have a thought process and review all the facts that are presented to me before going forward. It’s not just going to be a party line vote, lockstep, "You’ve-got-to-support-this." So, again, I hope that in November we’re successful in taking the House, and I want to be a part of that.

ePMedia: So whatever happens after that, you’ll take it as it comes?

Harris: I’ll take it as it comes.

ePMedia: Exactly. So how can we find you on line?

Harris: My website is You can contribute online, through paypal, through ActBlue, and of course our mailing address is on the website if people want to send checks to our PO box.

Kay Shepherd for ePMedia: Look for a transcript of the David Harris interview at the ePluribus Media in the coming days. You can find us at ePluribus Media is always one word and remember, don’t sweat the dashes, because we certainly didn’t. And if you like what you see there, consider joining us. Sign up for the Community, Volunteer to do fact checking, research, even cers, writers even consider making a donation to keep our servers running, And once again, this has been the ePluribus Media podcast for Thursday, June 22, 2006 I am your host Kay Shepherd; thanks for listening, stay subscribed, and remember:

It's not them.
It's us.

See you soon.

Photo credits and copyright Timothy D. Smith. Additional photo from David T. Harris campaign materials.
Podcast compliments of Kay Shepherd.
Proofreading credits: Newton Snookers
Transcription by: 4fx, cho
Other ePluribus Media contributors: KT, standingup, stoy, and kfred