Job description Represents the state of Texas in the US Senate, the upper chamber of the legislative branch. Term is six years.
Annual salary $174,000
Democrat Sema Hernandez
Democrat Edward Kimbrough
PO Box 1833, Houston, TX 77251
Democrat Mary Miller
Republican Stefano de Stefano
Republican Bruce Jacobson, Jr
Republican Ted Cruz (incumbent)
Republican Geraldine Sam
PO Box 1800, La Marque, TX, 77568
1. What is your current occupation? Educational background? What experiences do you have that make you the best candidate for US Senator?
Beto O’Rourke Answer: I have been a public servant since 2005 serving the people of El Paso first in City Council then as their Congressman. As the Congressman for District 16, I committed to holding open town halls (at least 1 per month) in the district and have had over 90 public events. I am deeply committed to listening to my constituents and would serve the state of Texas the same way.
Stefano de Stefano Answer: Attorney. I graduated from College of the Holy Cross with A BA in Political Science and Economics, and attended Fordham Law school. I am an attorney with 10 years of experience in the energy industry successfully negotiating major domestic and international transactions and major projects onshore, offshore, in LNG, and representing or negotiating against governments. I also gained a deep understanding of our financial system while representing major financial institutions during the financial crisis. I am the son of an Italian immigrant doctor and Army reservist who moved to Texas when he first came to America, I am married to a wonderful Puerto Rican wife and the father to two wonderful children and I speak English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Mandarin Chinese. In short, my family and career have given me an insider’s view of the major issues that affect Texas and America and I have the negotiating chops to reach pragmatic solutions that benefit real people, not just the donor class.
2. What percentage of your campaign donations comes from individuals? What percentage comes from PACs?
Beto O’Rourke Answer: We have raised over 5 million dollars exclusively from people. Not a dime of our money has come from PACs. Our average online donation is $25, and over 70% of the total donations have come from within Texas.
Stefano de Stefano Answer: 100% from individuals. 0% from PACs.
3. If elected, what would be the first piece of legislation that you would propose?
Beto O’Rourke Answer: There are many possibilities because there is so much work to be done on healthcare, workers’ rights, civil liberties, foreign policy, veterans’ issues, and more. But one piece of legislation I was particularly proud to have introduced was the No PAC Act, which bars political candidates from accepting PAC contributions. I believe this change to our campaign finance laws is a critical step in fixing American politics.
Stefano de Stefano Answer: A comprehensive infrastructure bill would be my first priority. I would also fight hard for the bills on the next three issues you ask about, but I think you build up from easy legislation, to build trust between the two sides, and tackle the harder stuff as you begin to re-develop the trust that has been lost in today’s national politics. So the first bill I would propose is:
A bill on infrastructure spending, which would bring lots of money to Texas. Water infrastructure to prevent flooding, dredging the ports in Houston and Corpus and the ship channel, highways, pipelines, electricity infrastructure and more. Not just because it should be easy to build trust and consensus on this, but because we NEED it. America will have to spend $25T on infrastructure over the next decade simply to maintain our extant infrastructure. It’s important, it will build trust, and it will HELP TEXAS!
4. What is your position on the legalization of recreational and medical marijuana? What regulations should there be on marijuana usage?
Beto O’Rourke Answer: I believe we should end federal prohibition of marijuana.
Stefano de Stefano Answer: Marijuana should be completely legalized. Prohibition is wasteful and ineffective on many fronts. I propose a federal repeal of the prohibition and then permitting the states to regulate it as they desire. Marijuana serves many medical purposes from helping vets with PTSD to helping people who are addicted to opioids get off them to pain management for cancer victims, to people with epilepsy.
5. What are your priorities for comprehensive immigration reform?
Beto O’Rourke Answer: I support comprehensive immigration reform that includes a clear, consistent, and reasonable pathway to citizenship.
Stefano de Stefano Answer: Our immigration system is broken. It encourages people to enter the US illegally which makes our country less safe and less secure for everyone. We can’t keep doing things like they’ve been done just because it’s always been done that way. Its untenable. The opposite of practical.
We can restructure our immigration system so that anyone along the spectrum — from the migrant laborer whom our ranchers and restaurants depend on, to the robotics specialist with a PhD in engineering who makes prosthetics for our Vets — anyone with the right skill-set for the job that wants to work in the US can do so lawfully to meet the demands of the American economy. Texas businesses from energy to agriculture to infrastructure DEMAND it.
Instead let’s harness market forces and meet demand for ranch-hands and dishwashers; for teachers and nurses; for doctors, engineers and scientists — thus creating an economic solution to a serious social problem that has hindered and bedeviled us for decades.
- Lowers cost of labor and goods we buy
- Makes us more competitive globally
- Keeps manufacturing jobs in the U.S.
- Generates revenue for government which can then be directed back into education, job training and services for the citizens of Texas
If I had my way there’d be pathways to education and job training for every Texans that wanted a job. As it stands, the idea that Americans compete with immigrants for jobs is a MYTH. But actually, I’d like to see Texas’ economy and infrastructure developed to that point, get to the point where Americans are educated and trained in direct correlation to the demands of Texas businesses; a vocation for every skill-set, an available skill-set for every vocation;
That will require a return to a focus on education and training. What we’ve witnessed, the assault on public school education in the name of school choice and the elimination of vocational programs all around the country — is UN-AMERICAN. This has nothing to do with liberal or conservative. It’s just common sense.
There was a time when we invested and reinvested in our future. There was a time when we invested in human capital and development.
I don’t care about the false dividing lines between us, the partisanship, the inertia, and self-serving career politicians like Cruz. I want what’s good for Texas. And in that regard: As Texas goes, so goes the country; In ensuring the strength and productivity of the state, one ensures the strength and prosperity of the nation.
That’s the kind of Senator I’d be. That’s the kind of leadership and direction I’d deliver to ALL Texans and for America.
6. What solutions to you propose for health care system reform?
Beto O’Rourke Answer: I believe there are several steps we should take together to increase access to healthcare in Texas:
• Improve the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by stabilizing our insurance markets. We can do so by guaranteeing continued payments for ACA subsidies that reduce enrollees’ cost-sharing and reimbursing insurers for high-cost individuals.
• Incentivizing insurers to participate in the exchanges, especially in underserved counties.
• Expanding Medicaid to cover more Texans and protecting the Medicaid guarantee for vulnerable children, the disabled, and the elderly.
• Lowering premiums and prescription drug costs by using the government’s purchasing power to make healthcare more affordable for everyone.
• Creating a public option on the exchanges so that Americans are guaranteed affordable coverage.
• Achieving universal healthcare coverage— whether it be through a single payer system, a dual system, or otherwise – so that we can ensure everyone is able to see a provider when it will do the most good and will deliver healthcare in the most affordable, effective way possible.
Stefano de Stefano Answer: I would be a freshman Senator, so I will support any bi-partisan legislation that will address our failing healthcare system. That being said, I have a policy prescription:
- We split healthcare into two categories – catastrophic and routine.
- We use the HSAs that everyone has now, and the government funds them with, say, $10K each year, to every citizen. It can be used for any medical expense as cash. It rolls over, but it cannot be inherited. A person can spend more if they desire, but it they run out of money, there is no public insurance plan for the routine items this money is for.
- We have a subsidized federal catastrophic risk policy for all Americans, with subsidized rates for the poor and middle class. Anyone can opt-out, but each year you start out enrolled.
By going to cash for non-catastrophic medical needs, we reduce the cost for things like MRIs, colonoscopies and check-ups by 40-80%, depending on the procedure. This will re-establish the link between the consumer and the service provider for the first time in several generations.
It is, for all intents and purposes, the return of private markets in healthcare. We also return health insurance to the insurance business model for all other industries. After all, no one uses car insurance to change their oil, or fix a flat tire. It re-introduces personal responsibility for your use, because if you run out of money, then you either pay out of pocket, or can’t afford the procedure. But it also provides access to everyone.
On the catastrophic side, the government would eliminate insurance profit margin and reduce the cost of provision because it is not covering every day procedures. It is not a mandate, and it can be supplemented if someone wants to.
Together, this eliminates the burden of providing healthcare coverage to Texas businesses, something that is LITERALLY 1/3rd of the total cost of an employee. That is money that can be used to hire workers, invest in the economy and give out raises. It would end the need for Medicaid, Medicare, etc. and it would basically be fraud-proof. It is unlikely someone would seek to pretend they have a gunshot wound.