Flanked by dozens of supporters inside Stephenson Pharmacy Tuesday morning, including business leaders, family and friends, Skip Ogle, a businessman and former lobbyist, announced he would seek election as District 6 state representative.
Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, announced Friday he would seek reelection to the District 6 post, setting the stage for a GOP primary showdown in March.
Ogle, 47, said he has worked many years for and with Tyler employers and community leaders to promote the city and region and that he looks forward to representing them in Austin.
"It will be a challenge," he said. "But the challenge ahead of us is worthwhile not only for the betterment of Texas but also for Tyler and East Texas. We can do it because of you."
Ogle said he has stepped down from his position as director of communications for Suddenlink to avoid perceived conflicts of interest and will now act as the company's director of community relations. He has been registered with the Texas Ethics Commission as a lobbyist for more than a decade.
He thanked his mother and his wife, Stephanie, for their support before turning his attention and thanks toward business leaders representing Tyler hospitals, higher education institutions, and other local employers.
The protection of innocent life, Second Amendment rights, and Texas residents along the border would be top priorities, he said. He said he wants to rise above polarizing political rhetoric to find agreement and make Texas a better place for the next generation of Texans.
Ogle said that future starts with jobs and creating opportunity for businesses and entrepreneurs. He said he has experienced, as a businessman and while representing Tyler businesses, the challenges of obstructive regulation, higher taxes and general ignorance about what Texas businesses need to succeed.
"You believe we deserve the best representation we can have and I want to deliver it, he said.
Ogle avoided questions about his assessment of Schaefer's first legislative session.
Schaefer defeated long-time Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, in the 2012 Republican primary and was not challenged in the general election. He was not available for comment about Ogle's candidacy because he is fulfilling duties as a Naval Reserve officer, spokesperson Judd Quarles said.
Instead Ogle focused on his role representing Tyler home-builders, the University of Texas at Tyler, UT Health Northeast and other institutions.
"I've promoted and been an advocate for local businesses and the community and I want to do the same for the people of District 6 and East Texas," he said. "It's an easy community to promote."