Proxy war plays out in race for Texas' 8th Congressional District

THE WOODLANDS, Texas (KTRK) -- Back in April of 2021 when U.S. Representative Kevin Brady announced his retirement, the race to represent the 8th Congressional District kicked off.

There are 11 candidates in the field. Experts and campaign finance reports say that Morgan Luttrell and Christian Collins are the frontrunners.

Through the end of 2021, Luttrell has raised about $1.9 million and Collins has raised about $333,000.

"We've got to take our country back, and it's not going to happen because of weak-kneed Republicans who go along to get along and just sit in their first year and kind of see how it goes. We've got to have people that are fighting for this country and fighting to take it back," said Collins.

Collins said he is the first one in his family to get involved in politics. His dad was a pastor and Collins said he sees politics as his mission.

"A lot of young people are falling for socialism, so we need to have some conservative, freedom fighters on the right that are going to bring young people into our party, excite the movement and bring people in to fight to save this nation. That's what I'm all about," he said.

Luttrell served as a Navy SEAL and was in the military for 14 years. He said his resume and life experiences set him apart.

"That led me to D.C. where I worked with President Trump at the Department of Energy under Secretary Perry as a senior advisor. I stood up in two offices in D.C., led and managed them," said Luttrell.

He is a business owner and was recently an adjunct professor at Sam Houston State University.

"At the end of the day, I am just a quiet little country boy that has been through a lot, and I am not scared to make the hard decisions," said Luttrell.

Both candidates mentioned border security and inflation as issues they would like to address as soon as they are elected.

Overall, the differences in issues between the two candidates are modest. Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston, said this race is more about their personalities and who is backing who.

"This race is also a bit of a proxy war between other national figures and also state figures. You've got Christian Collins, who has been endorsed by Ted Cruz because he's a former staffer, and you've got Morgan Luttrell, who has been endorsed by former Governor Rick Perry and by current Lt. Governor Dan Patrick," explained Rottinghaus.

When it comes to voting records, Rottinghaus said he does not think there would be much of a difference between the candidates.

"It's really a question of emphasis, so that they have different things they focus on. Morgan Luttrell obviously, a former military officer, is somebody who considers security interests pretty paramount. On the other hand, Christian Collins is more interested in the kind of social issues that come up in American public policy," said Rottinghaus.

Both Collins and Luttrell are having rallies Saturday at 4 p.m. Collins has people like Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Madison Cawthorn attending in his support, while Luttrell's rally is bringing in Lt. Gov. Patrick and former Gov. Perry.

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