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Editorial: We recommend Dan Crenshaw in U.S. House District 2
U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw has 1 million Twitter followers. His fundraising power puts him within shouting distance of high-ranking members such as Steve Scalise, R-La., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. A former Navy SEAL, he has managed to appear both loyal and critical of President Trump, and was the only Texan elected official with a major speaking role at the Republican National Convention.
There’s no question of Crenshaw’s outsized national standing as a freshman congressman, but now his fate is in the hands of Houstonians in the 2nd Congressional District, which makes a wiggly westward arc from Kingwood to neighborhoods near Rice University.
Turn the stage lights off, though, and his race against Democrat Sima Ladjevardian, 54, looks rather conventional.
First, let’s consider what is unusual. Crenshaw, 36, has shown a penchant for standing up to party and president. He wrote a letter of support for the inclusion of Log Cabin Republicans, who represent LGBT conservatives, at the Republican Party of Texas’s state convention. He’s called for Republicans to take climate change seriously. When Trump criticized Sen. John McCain months after his death and when Trump told the liberal congresswomen in “the Squad” to “go back,” Crenshaw tweeted at the president to quit. When Trump withdrew troops from Syria, Crenshaw released a nearly 12-minute video that respectfully but emphatically rejects the president’s rationale.
We applaud Crenshaw for using his platform to take these stands. At other times, he has left us both troubled and disappointed. Like many others early in the pandemic, Crenshaw argued that masks weren’t effective against the coronavirus. While he changed his mind as evidence showed otherwise — even purchasing and then donating 50,000 masks — he continued to push misrepresentations, as he did in his more recent videos defending Trump’s coronavirus response. He was wrong to call Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s mask order “draconian” and was wrong to remove his mask for long enough while at a crowded fundraising party to be photographed without it.
We’re also concerned that his positions on key issues for Houston, including how to confront climate change, aren’t far-seeing enough. He’s called renewable energy “silly” and has not embraced a carbon tax, something even many major oil companies are willing to accept. His positions on the border and on prescription drugs also disappoint.
Ladjevardian supports expansion of the Affordable Care Act and supports renewables and better fracking regulation — but no ban — as means to help Texas transition its economy away from over-dependence on fossil fuels. A lawyer and former national adviser to the Beto O’Rourke campaign, she brings passion and plenty of smarts to this race. Libertarian Elliott Scheirman made a notably articulate case for market-based solutions.
And yet, it’s impossible to ignore Crenshaw’s star power and his potential to shape the future of the Republican Party around respect, ideas and principles.
In addition, if he retains his seat, Crenshaw is likely to wield the kind of power that matters on delivering funding for dredging, roads and floodgates. We believe voters should return him to Congress.