AUSTIN, Texas — Early voting for the November election starts in one month, and congressional candidate Ricardo De La Fuente spoke with KVUE Political Anchor Ashley Goudeau about his campaign for U.S. House of Representatives - District 27.
Three things to know in Texas politics
Texas' mail-in voting laws won't change anytime soon. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the State, ruling the Texas law allowing people 65 years old and older to vote by mail does not violate the 26th Amendment, which prohibits voting discrimination based on age.
A judge rejected the State's attempt to stop the Harris County clerk from sending out mail-in ballot applications to every registered voter in the county. The State argued it could be confusing for voters who are not eligible to vote by mail under state law, but the judge pointed out there is information on who qualifies and called the State's reasoning inconsistent.
When Election Day rolls around, a million more Texans could cast ballots. So far, 1.26 million more Texans have registered to vote since the last presidential election in 2016, according to the Texas Secretary of State's Office.
While that number sounds good, the percentage of people registered to vote compared to how many are eligible to vote has actually decreased slightly, falling from 78% in 2016 to about 76% in 2020.
Ricardo De La Fuente (D), candidate for U.S. House of Representatives - District 27
As we inch closer to the November election, KVUE is talking with candidates running for the U.S. House of Representatives.
In 2018, Michael Cloud (R) was elected to represent District 27. The district spans the Texas coast and stretches north to Caldwell and Bastrop counties.
This November, Congressman Cloud will face off against entrepreneur Ricardo De La Fuente. De La Fuente spoke with KVUE Political Anchor Ashley Goudeau about his campaign.
Ashley Goudeau: Tell our viewers a little bit about yourself and why it is you're running for Congress.
Ricardo De La Fuente: "So, when I found out that this district, Texas 27, is the district where the highest uninsured in the nation, at 31% – we need, we need a change. We need to work harder. We can do better than that. This pandemic has shown that our system is broken. People are dying not only because they're at high risk, but because of [a] lack of health care coverage. So, from day one, I want to reform health care so everyone has access to health care. Texas is about 27 to 31% [uninsured] and the average in the nation [is] about 8%. So, you know, part of my platform is health care. My experience – and I have experience in development with infrastructure as well as assisted living facilities. So, I know what it is to live a long, healthy life. And I want to bring that experience to the table.
I am – I have worked in small business my whole life. Small business, I believe, represents the backbone of the economy. On average, four to five employees for every small business. I know all these big corporations like Whole Foods got all these huge relief packages from the government, but a lot of the mom-and-pop shops suffered and they didn't get the relief they needed. So, I really want to, you know, champion and support the small businesses, the restaurants. Imagine how many jobs that represents. A lot of our favorite restaurants may be shuttering. You know, a lot of people don't even know if next week – everyone in the hospitality [industry] is really hurting because they don't know if next week they're going to be shut down. So, I know there's a lot of uncertainty. So, we need a lot better coordination between federal, local and State [government]. I think right now there's a lot of discoordination, and we can do better than that.
So, as [a] congressman, I'm ready to work hard. I'm ready to represent everybody. Everybody's going to be welcome in my office. I know right now there's a lot of racial tension in this country. I think, you know, to bypass is No. 1. We need to invest more resources in community police relations. No. 2, education. Education, I think, it is a tool, a foundation for a site to prosper. Right now, everyone's going back to school. One of the people, my constituents, a lot of voters I've been talking to are worried because, you know, in some cases you have three, four generations in one household. They don't have enough computers. They don't know how to use all these online learning tools. They don't even have Internet connectivity in lots of parts in the rural areas, even the resources they need. So, last week, we actually had an opportunity to donate some laptops to kids that were going back to school. But it's really – it's really a tough time right now and it's all hands on deck and there's no days off."
Goudeau: So, during the primary election, you were actually running for Congress in two states, Texas and California. This obviously raised some eyebrows. You lost the primary in California, won in Texas. What would you say to voters who question your commitment to the Lone Star State?
De La Fuente: "Well, I'm currently in Texas. I have established residency here in Texas, been doing in Texas, my family over 20 years. So, we've created jobs, I think more jobs than the current congressman has created. I ran, and the reason why I ran is to increase the Latino vote. A lot of the districts I've chosen are districts where you have a majority Latino [population], but you have a non-Latino representing that district. So, I'm trying to get out the vote. I feel Latinos are very passionate about politics, but unfortunately, the data suggests that over half do not go out and vote. So, I'm trying to get the Latino vote out this election. And this November, I think the Latino vote is going to be very important in the direction this country is going to take in the following four years."
Goudeau: You touched on this a little bit, but if you are elected to Congress, what will be your top priority?
De La Fuente: "Well, health care. I mean, with this district being the highest [uninsured] in the nation at 31%, that's a top priority. We can do way better than that. We need to bring that way down. The other one is to support the small businesses. And we need to also put more resources and guidelines and help for schools to reopen so, you know, we make sure that the future leaders of tomorrow are getting the education they deserve and the resources that families need in order for their children to prosper and to learn to educate themselves."
Goudeau: Share some final thoughts with our viewers about why they should elect you this November.
De La Fuente: "Well, if you want a change, if you want someone who's going to work hard to bring about change, I really ask for your help. And I hope you can remember me on Nov. 3. I ask you – if you can – [to] vote early or vote by mail. And if you do vote, I want you to remember my name, Ricardo De La Fuente. And please try to socially distance, wear a mask and vote for someone that is going to represent you. I'm ready to represent you and be your voice in Washington."
Texans have until Oct. 5 to register to vote. Early voting runs from Oct. 13 through Oct. 30, and Election Day is Nov. 3.
WATCH: Texas voting laws changing
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