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Republican candidate challenges incumbent

The Battalion

Published: Monday, October 25, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 20:07


Daniel Crump and Jeremy Northum— THE BATTALION

Bill Flores

The "Bill Flores for Congress" campaign's "war-room" is a long dark-brown conference room with a long dark wood conference table as its centerpiece. Papers, files, laptop computers and the cables required for all the technology litter the tabletop. At the end of this table sits Bill Flores. Upon approach, his hefty, glistening and almost flawless Aggie ring catches your attention. After two hours with Flores, you can tell a lot about a candidate.

Flores is an energy industry heavy weight. He values tradition but wants to take a new direction. He believes that his execution of a hard fought election battle has been nearly flawless. He is ready for the payout: a win on Election Day.

Bill Flores is the Republican challenger in the longtime Democratic 17th congressional district. This district encompasses a swath of central Texas. It runs from just south of Dallas, to Waco, through Bryan-College Station and ends southeast of Navasota.

The district is competitive for a Republican challenger. Flores is riding a wave of what appears to be voter discontent with the Washington establishment. Incumbents all over the country are in a fight for their political lives. Groups such as the Taxed Enough Already (TEA) activists are exerting political pressure on incumbents and candidates whom they deem as not conservative enough.

The discontented, TEA activists, Republicans and independents, and students in the district are looking to Flores for ideas on issues such as the economy, taxes, government spending through earmarks, veterans issues and higher education costs. These issues are at the center of Flores' campaign, but he was not always concerned about such issues.

Flores is the fourth-generation in his family from the grassy windswept plains of the Panhandle and a ninth-generation Texan. He grew up in the town of Stratford, about 80 miles north of Amarillo.

"Dad decided he wanted to start his own ranching operation. He didn't have any money to hire anyone, and I was the oldest out of five kids," Flores said. "I went out and started working with him. I learned the value of hard work at a very young age.

While attending A&M, Flores. He was active in the Aggie Corps of Cadets, he was the Memorial Student Center vice president and was a Ross Volunteer.

Equipped with a degree in accounting, Flores began work as an accountant and married the girl he pursued in high school, Gina. After obtaining his CPA and MBA, Flores' business career took off. Flores found himself in the boardrooms of the energy industry. After 30 years of success, he felt something was missing.

When asked about the economy, he comes alive. His face brightens and his voice becomes slightly more animated than normal when he begins to address economics, unemployment and tax policy.

"I am against the stimulus bill. The government takes wealth, and I don't mean stealing, and spends it in other ways. There were no jobs from stimulus," said Flores. "Even President Obama admits there was no such thing as ‘shovel ready' projects. People want to say it could have been worse. You can't prove it."

He would love it if you would ask him what ideas a businessman has to fix the troubled economy.

"A payroll tax holiday for one year would've created $340-50 million of economic impact. It would've reduced taxes by roughly 15 percent for every individual," said Flores. "That's where the rubber meets the road. When the individual gets to make a choice about how they want to improve their situation."  

Flores said there has been criticism from the opposition for being somewhat ambiguous in his stance against earmark spending. He clarifies his position in simple language.

"Earmarks should be limited to critical national priorities. It's the tip of the iceberg on a broken appropriations process," Flores said. "It's done though a transparent process. The earmarks today don't have that."

Try to sell Flores the image that his opposition to the stimulus bill and earmarks would cost the University $131 million in research money, and like shrewd businessman, he's not buying it.

"There's two primary funding sources: there are grants, and A&M always gets over their fair share. Why is that? Because the researchers we have are so good," Flores said.

"The second source is earmarks. The bulk of the research that is federally funded comes from grants, and these are earned on their own merit. Not because Chet Edwards is associated with them."

While he is on the topic of A&M, research and higher education, he has a few ideas on those topics as well. Flores believes that A&M does an outstanding job of minimizing administrative costs per credit hour down, thus keeping overall costs to the student down.  He thinks this model could apply to colleges throughout the U.S.  In addition to keeping administrative costs down, he is willing to look at another hot-button issue with college students.

"The only other thing I'd like to do is look at the cost of textbooks. To me, those seem to be unreasonably high," Flores said.

Flores is easily roused about veterans' issues as well. He is quick to point out he never wanted to or advocated the privatization the V.A. Healthcare System as his opponent Chet Edwards has alleged. Flores wants to explore options to ease the overburdened routine care sector of the V.A.

Flores continues to nourish his record of accomplishment with veterans' issues and his passion for veterans' causes. He is mortified that his record on support of veteran's was impugned. He mentions his father is an Air Force veteran, and he has released documentation showing over $136,000 in personal donations to veteran related causes since late 2007.

Flores is optimistic about how his campaign is turning out. He has overcome going through an emergency neck surgery for a debilitating bone spur in his neck at a critical time in the race, the long hours, the up and downs of campaigning.

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