Former Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne is locked in a heated battle with four other candidates for the GOP nomination to U.S. House District 24.
The seat is being vacated by Rep. Kenny Marchant from Carrollton who has been in Congress since 2005.
Van Duyne served two and a half years as a U.S. Housing and Urban Development Texas regional appointee in the Trump administration after six years as Irving Mayor and six years as an Irving city council member.
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She said her experience makes her the best choice for the seat in Congress.
“I’ve had a lot of opportunity to figure out what the problems are in our district and what the solutions could be and should be,” Van Duyne said.
In the latest Federal Election Commission records through Feb. 12, 2020, Van Duyne led the field with $766,223.89 campaign contributions since July 1, 2019, and $230,073.63 cash on hand.
Van Duyne’s contributions include big Political Action Committee donations from around the nation, large donations from a national Republican Party victory fund, along with many smaller donations from local contributors.
Next in fundraising was Carrollton real estate businesswoman Sunny Chaparala with $325,676.00 raised since Nov. 4, 2019 and $173,163.43 on hand. The records show Chaparala loaned her campaign $321,760.
Chaparala is an immigrant from India who came to the US with her father at age 12.
“I started in a telemarketing job. Now I own two small companies,” she said. “I never thought it would be possible. So, I am the American Dream.”
Chaparala said immigrants should enter the US legally as she did. She would emphasize transportation and infrastructure as a member of Congress to better deal with population growth in North Texas.
“Being a real estate broker I actually see every day the influx and we are not ready,” Chaparala said.
Next in fundraising is Irving businessman and Army Veteran Desi Maes. Records show he has raised $106,980.70 since Sept. 1, 2019, including a $68,000 loan to his own campaign. Maes had $32,922.10 on hand.
Maes said he earned a Masters's Degree while serving in the U.S. Army and then started several businesses after leaving the military.
“I’ve been in an uphill battle my whole life. Nothing scares me. I’m in this race to represent the people of this district. I’m in it to make change in the right way,” Maes said. “I know how to get things done. I came from nothing.”
Maes and Chaparala said they would oppose amnesty for so-called Dreamers who entered without documentation as children.
“I’m a legal immigrant. There’s a whole bunch of difference,” Chaparala said.
Van Duyne said she supports a path to legal status but not citizenship for those who have been in the US since childhood without committing crimes.
Maes said Dreamers should touch back to their original countries and apply for legal re-entry.
Maes and Chaparala accused Van Duyne of being a career politician
“We need someone who’s going to go in there and put service back into public service,” Maes said.
Van Duyne said public service is exactly what she has provided over the years in spare time between paying jobs, as far back as Irving neighborhood activities and parent-teacher groups with her children.
“Those were all things that I did because I felt that public service was important. I prioritized it and I taught my kids to prioritize it,” Van Duyne said.
Fegan, 25, would be the youngest member of Congress if elected. He raised $87,892.02 since July 1, 2019, including a $30,000 loan to his own campaign.
"There are no strings tied to me. I'm going up to change the system," Fegan said. "At the age of 25, I started my own business. I've owned office buildings. I've done really well in the business world. I've fought for myself. So, why not let me fight for you?"
Fegan says his biggest priorities include ending abortion in the country, ending illegal immigration and reducing the national deficit.
Liverman filed a petition to run instead of paying a filing fee. Records show Liverman raised $9,348 since Sept. 1, 2019, with $4,318.71 on hand.
"As a fiduciary, I have always put their best foot forward," Liverman said. "And I look forward to putting the best foot forward of every single person in this district. I will fight for every person in this district. Put them first before me."
Liverman says his focuses include enhancing infrastructure and health care.
Marchant narrowly won the 2018 election with a margin of only 50.6% of the vote.
Six Democrats are competing in the March 3 Primary.
Southern Methodist Political Science Expert Cal Jillson said the 24th Congressional District could be a very close contest in November with both sides receiving heavy outside contributions to secure the seat.