State Sen. Donna Campbell likes to tell gatherings she’s the most conservative person in the room. She’s of the sort who taunts Democrats for being soft and out of touch with “real” Texas values and likes to take aim at hot-button issues like gun control.
Now comes her challenger in this November’s election, Steve Kling, a Democrat who also happens to be a combat veteran and the former commander of an Army Reserve small-arms fire team. Campbell’s been trying to avoid debating him. So Kling has now challenged Campbell to a shooting competition to be followed by a policy debate.
“I have seen in your campaign ads that you are quite the marksman,” wrote Kling in a challenge letter addressed to Campbell. “While we can both agree that voters should likely choose another metric for representation beyond marksmanship, a lighthearted, public forum will give Texas voters the opportunity to evaluate both candidates….”
Kling, whose parents live in Buda, goes on to suggest debate terms and several possible dates. Campbell, who lives outside the county but owns an emergency medical clinic in Kyle, has declined to participate, but Kling is still open to the option. Still, it seems the senator, who has been known more for her Tea Party rhetoric and partisanship in the capitol than for her legislative substance, may have drawn an opponent who has his sights set on a real challenge.
Since defeating moderate-conservative Republican Jeff Wentworth a few years ago, Campbell has relied on her take-no-prisoners attitude and ample campaign funds to cruise to re-election. This time she has angered many of her traditional allies in the Wimberley area by using the legislature to exempt a large landholder campaign donor from water quality regulations. She’s also worked to undermine city development regulations in other areas, including the ability of cities to protect landmark trees, saying it infringes on property rights.
It will be interesting to see how that attitude plays in Hays County, where dramatic growth is stressing small cities and dozens of individual neighborhoods, all striving to protect local character and water resources. Whether she eventually steps up to meet Kling’s challenge for a shooting contest, it would be insightful to see the two trade potshots over real public policy.