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Republican Collin County U.S. Rep. Keith Self faces multiple primary challengers

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Four Collin County Republicans are running to unseat Self: Suzanne Harp, Jeremy Ivanovskis, John Porro, and Tre Pennie.

Early voting for the primary election is less than two weeks away. And Collin County Congressman Keith Self has to get past four opponents in his Republican primary if he’s going to be on the ballot in November.

Self was first elected to Congressional District 3 in 2022. He won the Republican primary runoff after the incumbent, Van Taylor, ended his reelection campaign. The Texas Tribune reported that happened after the conservative media outlet Breitbart published a story alleging that he had an affair with a woman he paid to keep quiet.

Self has had a lot of support in Collin County. He was elected with almost 60% of the vote in the 2022 general election. He was also the county judge for 12 years.

The congressman is known for being conservative — he was one of the Republicans who held up the election of former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy. He’s also part of a group that voted no on a recent continuing resolution to fund the federal government. He explained that decision at a candidate forum at the Collin College Plano campus.

“We will not vote to fund anything until we actually have behavior change on the border,” Self said.

The lawmaker said he supports Governor Greg Abbott’s efforts to secure the Texas border.

The Collin County Conservative Republicans hosted the forum. The candidates at the debate vied to claim they had the most solid conservative values by hitting talking points about things like the border and the budget.

Suzanne Harp, who came in third in the 2022 Republican primary for the Congressional district, said the nation needs to curb its spending.

“If America isn't real careful, we're going to go the way of the Communist Soviet Union,” Harp said.

Election fraud also came up. That’s a frequent theme at commissioners court meetings in Collin County. Several Republican precinct chairs have shown up to court meetings regularly to repeat false claims that the 2020 election was stolen because of the voting machines.

John Porro, another candidate running against Self, echoed those concerns at the forum. He said the country should go back to in person voting with paper ballots.

“We got those elections right,” Porro said. “They couldn't be hacked. They could not be changed.”
Many of the speakers at commissioners court have urged the county to go back to hand-counted paper ballots.

Jeremy D. Ivanovskis, who also ran in the district’s Republican primary in 2022, criticized the Help America Vote Act, a federal law that supporters praised for bringing about sweeping reforms to the nation’s voting process.

“I would repeal the HAVA act, which required states to purchase faulty machines without a paper trail with software made in foreign countries,” Ivanovskis said.

Other candidates highlighted their affiliation with former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate. Tre Pennie, a Black police officer, talked about how Trump supported him when he sued Black Lives Matter and then President Barack Obama in 2017 for inciting violence against police.

I did that by myself, not expecting anybody else to get behind me,” Pennie said. “But you know who did? President Trump did call me.”

Trump has endorsed Self for reelection on the social media site Truth Social.

Sandeep Srivastava, a Collin County Realtor who immigrated from India to the United States 25 years ago, is the only candidate running for the seat in the Democratic primary. He was the party’s nominee in 2022.

Collin County is known for being Republican. Attorney General Ken Paxton calls it home. But the area is the third fastest growing county in the nation – and it’s diversifying as it grows. Srivastava said at a Democratic candidate meet and greet in McKinney that Keith Self doesn’t represent the interests of the county’s diverse population.

“Keith Self represents only very few, 10 or 12%,” Srivastava said.

Collin County is about 20% Asian, 16% Hispanic and 12% Black according to U.S. Census data.

Early voting for the primaries in Collin County starts Feb. 20 and goes until March 1. Election day is March 5.

Got a tip? Email Caroline Love at clove@kera.org.

Caroline Love is a Report For AmericaCorps member for KERA News.

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Caroline Love