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Barnwell launches campaign to unseat Burgess

Barnwell launches campaign to unseat Burgess
By Stephen Webster
Investigative Reporter
Publication date: March 17, 2006

On Monday, March 13, 2006, delegates from the Denton County Democratic Party converged on the Landmark Grill in Flower Mound to help Tim Barnwell kick off his campaign for the District 26 seat in the House of Representatives. Barnwell, having recently recovered from open-heart surgery some six weeks ago, has been eagerly anticipating the beginning of the contest.

Photo by Stephen Webster
Tim Barnwell (right) motions toward a child out of frame while speaking about the federal deficit on Monday night.

As the meeting came to order, one of the party delegates stood and read Barnwell’s bio. According to documents provided, Barnwell has over 20 years experience in entrepreneurial business management. He has a Bachelors degree in Historical Studied with a focus on Education and Communications from the University of Texas at Dallas and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Dallas. Barnwell is also an associate member of the American Bar Association’s dispute resolution section and a member of the Center for Latin American Economics. He has lived in Denton County since the late 1970’s, and currently resides with his wife in Providence Village.

One of the first points of order for Barnwell was dealing out a little reality to party faithful. “It ain’t going to be so easy, my friends,” he said. “My Republican opponent, Michael Burgess, has raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars in just the last few months. And it is all special interest money from big corporations. You know, guys like TXU, SBC, Pfizer and Exxon. The pharmaceutical industry, along with the insurance folks and the electric utilities really want Burgess to stick around.” Financial data from the Center for Responsive Politics confirms Barnwell’s claims. “And they will make sure his pockets are bottomless,” he continued. “All I am running on is a freshly repaired heart and a pool of small donors. Well, so far anyway.”


Photo by Stephen Webster
Barnwell, at his most Churchill-like, spent a large portion of time holding an informal conversation with his consituents.

Barnwell’s speech went on for about an hour and a half. He touched on a variety of issues, including immigration, the war in Iraq, home ownership and property taxes. The most looming political challenge, America’s invasion of Iraq, weighed heavily on the candidate. He left the topic for last, but devoted more words to it than any other issue.

“One of the biggest offenses I’ve seen so far – aside from our Secretary of Defense and Vice President condoning the brutal torture of war prisoners - is the military’s body armor rule,” said Barnwell. “The company that was chosen by the Army and Marines wrote into their rules that if a soldier uses a different kind of armor and dies in battle, the soldier’s $500,000 life insurance policy is void. The problem is the body armor, which is only given to a small percentage of our soldiers, doesn’t stop the bullets. If a family saves up $5,000 to buy the kind of armor the generals wear, their loved one in Iraq is risking that insurance coverage. How can that be?”

Barnwell also offered an alternative solution to the conflict. Diametrically opposed to Congressman Burgess, Barnwell believes there to be a better plan than the indefinite occupation of Iraq. “How do we get out? Pull back now,” he said. “Not pull out now, but pull back now. We sit down with the experts, our allies around the world, all our generals, and we work out a real estate withdraw plan so we don’t have what happened in Vietnam. Pull back responsibly. That is the key. […] Bring in our allies. Bring in the United Nations. We must do everything we can to prevent the bloodbath that is a civil war. But Bush and my opponent, Michael Burgess, want our soldiers to stay in the line of fire. For what? For what? Nobody can say.”


Photo by Stephen Webster
During parts of his speech, Barnwell (left) joked around with the collection of delegates, engaging them in the conversation as few politicians can.

“We’ve all heard it a million times: Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11! Bush has even admitted that,” said Barnwell with a sigh. “For six weeks before he even announced the start of the war, we were carpet bombing Iraq. Who were we bombing? Nobody in specific. Just softening up the terrain. That is shameful. But we have to live with that. We’re not a perfect country. Far from it. But we can change that. We must return to what Teddy Roosevelt said: ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick.’”

Barnwell also asked those in attendance to come to the Courthouse Square in Denton on Saturday, March 18, between 11 a.m. and noon to protest the war in Iraq. “I think we should support organizations such as Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace, who are putting on this demonstration on the third anniversary of the start of this war.” Mr. Barnwell will be delivering the keynote address at the event.

Barnwell also spent a sizeable amount of time talking about the importance of quality education. Speaking of President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” program, Barnwell cringed, claiming it has been completely neglected by the ruling party. “[I]n classic Republican fashion, [the program has been] under-funded by 80 percent. It was a good idea, but it lies in ruins. So now the teacher in my district says her principal told her, ‘I know that Johnny can’t read, but we’re going to have to pass him because if we don’t pass x-amount of students, we won’t get federal funding.’ It is the driving force behind social promotion, and a terrible injustice that is being committed against our kids.”

“We must take responsibility for our children,” he said. “Right now, we need someone to go to bat for us. When I was a substitute teacher in Farmer’s Branch, every morning their cafeteria was jammed with kids on the free breakfast program. About a third of that school’s students qualify for the program because they come from low income families. Now, 25 percent are out of it, because the president cut the program. And shame on him for it. One of the principals that I stand for – that we stand for, I believe – is that we help each other. Now, I’m not going to give you a hand out, but I’m going to give you a helping hand. If giving some kids a good meal to eat is part of the deal, great. Let’s do it. Even if it’s just a sausage biscuit … and they aren’t that good.”

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