AUSTIN, Tex. — Most years a political novice like Dr. Donna Campbell would have little hope to defeat Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett in a race for his South Texas House seat.
For 16 years, Doggett has represented the congressional district that stretches from liberal South Austin into the more conservative farmlands and small towns of rural Texas.
Doggett usually wins his reelection bids with over two-thirds of the vote and in the current campaign he has raised over $3 million in campaign cash to Campbell’s $84,000.
But this is not a normal year and Dr. Campbell is not quite a normal GOP congressional nominee.
As much as any 2010 congressional race this turbulent election year, Campbell vs. Doggett personifies the story line of a Tea Party insurgent seeking to topple an entrenched incumbent.
“We are finding a lot of encouragement with some buyer’s remorse from the last election,” Campbell, the Republican nominee for Texas’ 25th Congressional District, said in an interview with HUMAN EVENTS. “They just want incumbents out.”
She has been campaigning to increase her name recognition, meeting voters one-on-one at rural picnics and small town parades. “I am really under the radar,” she says.
Campbell hopes to turn her opponent’s advantage against him, by painting Doggett as a career politician, while using her medical background to score points on the healthcare issue.
“I would expect him to have better name recognition. He was in the Texas Senate and Texas Supreme Court. He was already in politics in college,” she said.
Campbell says the most important issues in the election are “the economy and jobs.”
“The only thing going up with jobs is the unemployment rate and public-sector jobs. That’s not sustainable and that will be on our backs.”
She also lists as key issues “out-of-control spending and the debt that will be a burden on our children, as well as Obamacare and immigration.”
Campbell takes a strong conservative stance on issues across the board. She is pro-life, opposes gay marriage and favors school vouchers. The politicians she most admires are Tea Party favorites Rep. Michele Bachmann (R.-Minn.) and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
But Campbell is perhaps best positioned on the issue of healthcare reform to make a contrast with her opponent.
While Doggett helped write the Obamacare bill, which is still highly unpopular with the electorate, Campbell has seen the medical system up close.
She is an ophthalmologist and emergency room doctor. Even while running for Congress, she still works some 12 hour shifts.
“I hope that some of those some in Congress who voted for [Obamacare] now realize they were sold a bill of goods. Because it is not about quality, it is not about access, it is definitely not about cost,” Campbell said. “It’s going to cost our seniors—some of the most vulnerable in our society—as they take away money out of Medicare to fund other projects. “
She says that the bureaucracy that will be enacted under the measure passed by Congress will dehumanize healthcare.
“To have a legislature come down with a blanket policy that is a one size fits all—it’s not going to work when you have one person at the top who is going to dictate recommendations to a board that is going then to filter down to the masses,” she said.
Her approach to fixing the healthcare system: “Just like you cut a steak up, you eat it one bite at a time.”
Her solution to fix the healthcare system includes allowing health insurance to be sold across state lines—“The prices would drop, the companies would clamor for your business, that’s how free enterprise works”—as well as tort reform to curtail frivolous lawsuits that drive up costs.
Campbell decided to run for Congress because she was “getting tired of the government growing and slowly infringing on freedom.”
“After the ’08 election, I had an overwhelming sense of duty, to step up, get off the bench and do something,” said Campbell.
Despite the long odds against her, Campbell sees hope in the fact that party designation doesn’t mean much in this turbulent political year but issues do.
Speaking at Tea Party events helps her to connect with “a group of folks who are aligned on the same page I am.”
“What the Tea Party people are doing is not making a statement about a party, as much as they are making a statement about the concern for their country,” she said.
Diminutive in stature, Campbell has a fiery and outgoing personality that she considers to be a political asset.
“People when they meet me, recognize the energy I seem to bring and that in itself promotes the momentum.”
Campbell is clearly running as an outsider against Washington.
“Mr. Doggett is very liberal. He voted 98% of the time with Nancy Pelosi. And him getting in again, is one more vote that keeps Pelosi in. And if there are nine words that should send shills down your spine: Nancy Pelosi is third in line for the presidency.”
And regarding President Obama, Campbell says, “If he truly believes what he is doing is helping our country, then he is misguided.”