Schaefer: He's optimistic about solving problems statewide, local

Matt Schaefer (Victor Texcucano/Staff

Texas Rep. Matt Schaefer easily fended off challenger Skip Ogle in a hotly contested race for the GOP nomination in Texas House District 6.

Schaefer received 9,888 votes, or 61.1 percent, compared to 6,304 votes, or 38.9 percent, for Ogle, according to final results Tuesday.

Schaefer, 37, an attorney, developer, Naval Reserve lieutenant commander and former East Texas Regional Director for U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, defeated longtime District 6 Rep. Leo Berman in the 2012 Republican primary.

After knocking on thousands of doors during his re-election campaign, Schaefer said he was appreciative of the support and time engaging with a full range of community members. He said he was optimistic about representing the values of East Texas and finding common ground to provide solutions to statewide and local problems while in Austin.

"I think I've gained an up-close understanding of the electorate, and if there's one thing I learned in the military is that you take constructive criticism, apply what you've learned, improve and keep marching," he said. "No great effort is completed without bumps in the road, but I'm optimistic."

Schaefer said legislators moved forward on a few key issues, including education, roads and water, but much work remains if Texas is to stay an attractive state to business and individuals and a bastion for free enterprise and personal liberty.

But Schaefer said there is much more to be done with regard to public education, infrastructure and addressing concerns within the state budget.

Some political observers viewed Schaefer's early opposition to Texas House Speaker Joe Straus as detrimental to his ability to operate inside the Capitol Building and had negative effects on local bills Schaefer carried, including legislation to bring a pharmacy school to The University of Texas at Tyler.

Ultimately, the bill was carried by fellow freshman Rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, and became law. Clardy credited the entire East Texas legislative delegation, including Schaefer.

Schaefer said he was an important voice for the bill among reticent, staunch conservatives and that critics were "looking for failure in the midst of success."

Ogle, 47, is a longtime lobbyist and businessman with more than a decade of experience representing companies, such as Southwestern Bell and Suddenlink, and local entities, such as UT Tyler, and in Austin.

He entered the race to "lobby for the community" and pledged to focus his efforts on improving the quality of life in his district, East Texas and the state.

"I wish the outcome was different but I am so grateful to have been a candidate for the community," he said. "The community support came from all corners of the district and I am thankful."

Ogle said running against an incumbent was an uphill climb that he could not overcome. He said he will remain active in the community and did not broach future political plans.

"I'm certainly hopeful for the incumbent as he returns to Austin," Ogle said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with him, and as far as future plans (my supporters and I) will continue working in and for this community."

Schaefer said he wants to focus on common sense governing and improving Texas' ability to create jobs, educate and provide core services for Texans. He said solid conservatives were elected to the House during the primary and that it reflects a statewide desire for more conservative leadership among voters.

He thanked Ogle for putting his name in the political hat and said Ogle would continue to be a valued member of the community.

No Democrat filed as a candidate in District 6. Schaefer will face Libertarian candidate Joel Gardner in the November general election.




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