DMN Article: Senator Hutchison Headlines Fundraiser for Jason Villalba

July 16, 2012

Kay Bailey Hutchison headlines fundraiser for state House runoff candidate Jason Villalba

Dallas Morning News


Staff Writer

Published: 13 July 2012 10:52 PM

State House candidate Jason Villalba, battling in a GOP runoff to represent Lake Highlands and North Dallas, brought out heavyweight support Friday at a fundraiser headlined by U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

The retiring senator joined state Sen. Florence Shapiro of Plano and other top Republicans in championing Villalba as a thoughtful but steadfast conservative.

Hutchison highlighted her support by noting how rare it was for her to jump into such a race.

“Not one other person in the state of Texas have I endorsed in the primary, even though I’ve been asked a lot,” she told about 50 people gathered at a Highland Park home. “The reason is he’s the future.”

Villalba, a Dallas lawyer making his first political run, faces former state Rep. Bill Keffer in the July 31 runoff.

Even though Villalba finished second in the May primary by 6 percentage points, he predicted he would prevail in District 114.

He said there’s a “clear distinction” in leadership style between him and Keffer, who has staked his campaign on being the “true conservative.”

He cast himself as a “community servant” and said he would prove his party bona fides by “doing what is right for the people, not to wave a flag, not to get in partisan battles.”

Keffer, who represented the old District 107 from 2003 to 2006, said in a phone interview that he agrees there are differences in how they would approach the job.

He said he makes no apologies for being perceived as a hard-line Republican, and he jabbed at Villalba’s more consensus-building ways.

“I’m a little puzzled about Jason’s emphasis on reaching across the aisle,” Keffer said.

Hutchison and Shapiro echoed Villalba’s stump speech, saying there needs to be a different kind of leadership coming into both Austin and Washington.

Shapiro said government needs more problem solvers, not a bigger crowd of people who will just say “No.”

Hutchison said lawmakers must focus more on Texas’ future by properly funding education, an area slashed in the last legislative session.

“As I’m on the exit ramp,” she said, “I want to make sure the next generation coming in are the right kind of people who are thoughtful and … who know the community.”