Come March, Larry Smith will be the sole Republican Congressional candidate on the District 34 ballot, but in the two days following the Dec. 9 filing deadline, the state elections office had received no word on Smith’s candidacy.
It was a nervous 48 hours for Smith, 37, who elected to seek inclusion in the primary through collecting signatures.
To acquire the at least 500 signatures necessary to be on the ballot without paying the filing fee, the Army veteran said he put about 3,700 miles on his truck as he traversed the district, which runs from Corpus Christi south to Brownsville.
In case of issues with the signatures, Smith said he submitted a check along with the petition, but that working to be on the GOP ballot for no charge was important to his campaign both from a financial and philosophical standpoint.
“The reason we collected the signatures was we wanted to really show fiscal responsibility,” he said, noting that is one of the most prevalent themes of his campaign. “You don’t just dump $3,000 on bureaucracy.”
Smith, a fiscal conservative, sees problems with the federal government’s debt and spending habits and listed reigning in Washington waste as a priority.
But he also said he wants to base his decisions on the priorities of his constituents, meaning the tour wasn’t just about signatures and saving money.
“It was an excuse really to go back and talk to people we hadn’t talked to in eight months,” he said, referring to when he first announced his intentions to run for office. “You’re not just saving money. You’re really taking the time to meet with people.”
Meeting with District 34 residents, he said, gave him an opportunity to judge for himself whether he thought he deserved to be in the nation’s capital.
“I’m a soldier,” he said. “The last thing I want to do is go to Washington and hurt the country.”
Although he is running as a Republican, the Yorktown resident said he wanted to reach out to voters in an effort to differentiate himself as a conservative without them having to assume it’s based on his partisanship.
“I’m not going to hide behind a party line,” he said.