Last month, Blake Farenthold defeated Solomon Ortiz, a 14 term Democrat in their Congressional election in the 27th District in Texas. The district is in southeastern Texas and is known for its Gulf industries, including oil and fishing. Farenthold is a lifelong resident of Corpus Christi, Texas. The district has a large number of Hispanic voters, who tend to have conservative values. Farenthold has had a varied career, working successfully in a number of occupations including attorney, computer consultation, and as a radio talk show host. Mr. Farenthold is married to his wife, Debbie, who is a nurse. They have two daughters.

What follows is Right Pundits’ interview with Congressman-Elect Farenthold as part of our interview series with the incoming GOP Freshman Class of 2011.


RP: What issues in the campaign do you think connected most with the voters in your district?

Blake Farenthold: The entire Republican platform with its focus on jobs was important. Specifically, in the 27th district, which encompasses south Texas from Corpus Christi to Brownsville along the Gulf coast, there was a 28 year incumbent, Solomon Ortiz, . Mr. Ortiz had fallen into the Washington trap of spending too much time in Washington, and too much time traveling and not enough time back at home listening to his bosses, the people who elected him.


RP: What 2 or 3 specific goals are you most interested in seeing accomplished this term?

Blake Farenthold: Texas is one of the states in the union that is doing really well. Unfortunately, Corpus Christi and Brownsville is one of the areas that are not doing as well as other areas of the state. In addition to the overall Republican goals of creating a business-friendly environment, through lower taxes, less government regulation, and a more predictable judiciary, I want to be an advocate for south Texas.
I want to get people back to work because, as our founding fathers made clear, we were born with the right to life, liberty, and happiness. The pursuit of happiness is, in many instances, a job. You work hard, you find your self-worth in your work, and you are able to provide more for your family.


RP: How hopeful are you that you and the new Republican majority will be able to accomplish these goals?

Blake Farenthold: It’s going to be an uphill battle. We’re going to be one-half of one-third of the government. But we also are the voice of the people. The freshman class that I’m in was elected because most people were upset and disappointed and want a different kind of change. Actually, the House right now is the conscience of the government and the brightest reflection of the public’s will. We’ll just have to weigh that to get what we want out of the Senate and the White House.
How we’ll do that is we start with what we believe our mandate is, lwith big, bold bills, like repeal obamacare. I’m a realist; I don’t think that will get by the Senate and it certainly won’t get by a presidential veto but we will have expressed the will of the peopleand then we have to go back and start chipping away at it through the funding mechanisms until the next election when we have enough seats in the Senate and the White House is up. I think that if we’re not able to get some of the things done that we’re mandated to do. We’ll see a great shift in power in both branches of government.

We’ll face some of the same issues that were faced by the Congress that was elected in 1994. My analogy is that we’ve maxed out the Visa and the MasterCard, now what do you do? Do you fire the Navy? The real question is how effective are we going to be and how courageous are we going to be? Is it really courage or is it foolhardiness when we start to cut spending money? It’s one thing to make good campaign speeches but how are we going to implement it. What exactly does that mean?

Everyone talks about cutting the budget, but how do you do it? We all agree to cut fraud and waste but that’s only x%., but what if that doesn’t get us there? One of the things that I said in the campaign is if I come back here in two years and ask for your vote, and you’re not mad at me for cutting some program that you like, then I didn’t do my job.
I think we’ve got a political climate nowhere some of these hard choices may be palatable to the American public. In Washington, there’s a whole lot of what they call ‘non-discretionary spending’. I think that that’s a huge misnomer; every dime that the government spends is discretionary. I get e-mails every day where people say that we’ve got to cut the budget but don’t cut programs that I want.

We need to get Social Security and Medicare on a sound financial footing; how we do that is where the questions start coming in. A lot of Social Security recipients understand that. You’ve got to find a way to deal with the problem, but you’ve got to find a way to do it that doesn’t cripple those who have planned their retirement who are counting on it. It’s too late to do anything about those who are already on Social Security. We’ve got to keep our promises to them. So it’s the people who are coming up who are going to take the brunt of this. For them, they’ll have to keep paying in to it, but they won’t see nearly the level of benefits that their parents did…and younger people, they may not see any benefits at all. Maybe the solution is that you turn it into a defined contribution plan instead of a defined benefit plan.
I don’t know what the answer is, but we, the Republicans in the freshman class are going to work hard to find the best solution for America. People think of Social Security and Medicare as the third rail, but maybe this time they’re not. It’s a matter of the integrity and honor of the federal government.

The budget crisis may not be as bad as people think that it is, as we get people back to work and we get the economy going. You get double bang for your buck. People get a job, you get them off of welfare, and they start paying taxes, and they’ve got more money to spend so the economy grows.That’s why getting the economy going again and getting people back to work is the most critical thing that we can do. If you look at the magic that happened under Ronald Reagan with the tax cuts and the economy taking off, the budget basically took care of itself.


RP: What committees are you most interested in working on? Why?

Blake Farenthold: My long-term goal is to be on the Energy and Commerce Committee; but that’s a longshot for any freshman. I realize that there are dues that I need to pay first. What I think would be most beneficial to the people who elected me are the same committees as the Democrat who I defeated was on, which were House Armed Services and Transportation. South Texas has the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station, the Corpus Christi Army Depot and the Kingsville Jet Training Center, so we’ve got a strong military presence where we train the naval aviators to keep our country safe.

As far as transportation, we’ve got two deep-water ports in Brownsville and Corpus Christi, with Corpus Christi being one of the leading areas for refining petrochemicals. Those are critical to the area and will benefit the people who elected me.


RP: Has anything about the political culture in Washington, DC surprised you yet?

Blake Farenthold: There’s a huge pressure to go to the middle or to fall into ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it’ mentality. It’s a strong feeling of pressure that I get. It’s like in high school and the peer pressure to conform. It’s very strong. You’ve just got to remember who elected you and why you came up here.

During the campaign, I put out ‘Blake’s Contract with the 27th District’, where I listed some of the promises that I made during the campaign. That’s going to be taped to the center of my desk and every decision that I make, I’m going to say ‘how does this fit into my promises?’ How does it fit into my promise for more jobs, less government, and less taxes?’


RP: Nationally, does the GOP’s historic victory in the 2010 midterms give it a mandate from the voters and, if so, what is that mandate?

Blake Farenthold: To me, I think that there is a clear mandate. It was an unexpectedly high turnover of House seats. My race in particular was off the radar. I think that people are fed up with government spending and the government power grab, the growth in government that thing’s like obamacare have caused. I see it as a repudiation of obamacare and I see it as a mandate to rein the government in, to close the purse strings and limit regulations.


RP: How difficult will it be for the Republican House majority to work with the Democratic Senate majority and President Obama to accomplish national priorities?

Blake Farenthold: I think that the tax deal, even though it is only for the short-term indicates that the Obama administration has seen the writing on the wall. The American people want something different than they’ve had for the past two years, but it’s definitely going to be an uphill battle. There’s a huge ideological difference between the two parties right now. You see the House, due to this turnover, a number of the Democrats who lost were the blue dog or more moderate or conservative Democrats. The Democrats who remain are much further left than it was. Many of the Republicans who came in defeated some of the more conservative Democrats so I think that there will actually be a greater divide.

But here’s one of the things that I have learned when dealing with some of the Democrats that I’ve met up here and some of the conversations I’ve had with Mr. Ortiz since the election. Everybody wants what is best for the country. The difference is how do we get to that end. I think that that’s something that is missed in the national political debate where there is a vilification of the other side. I haven’t met a single Democrat who in his heart doesn’t want what is best for the country but we disagree on a lot of the ways we get there.


RP: Anything more you want to share with the readers of Rightpundits.com?

Blake Farenthold: It’s people like you who read about what is going on in politics that help steer the country. Your interest is what has enabled us to take back the House and go forward. It’s the people who don’t vote or don’t study the issues and make informed decisions who are a big part of the problem so you’re part of the solution because you’re reading blogs like this and you’re reading newspapers and watching news on tv or listening to talk shows on the radio.


RP: Thank you for the time you shared with our readers. Good luck up there.

That is all for our interview with Congressman-Elect Blake Farenthold of Texas. Stay tuned as Right Pundits interviews the entire GOP Freshman Class of 2011.