Babin: ‘All we did was deliver the goods’
A satisfied Brian Babin was beaming from ear to ear as he greeted supporters at his election eve party at Al-T’s Cajun Food Restaurant in Winnie, Texas.
The dentist, who put down the drill four years ago and picked up a winning platform, celebrated his victory over opponent and celebrity Dayna Steele and fanned off the ‘Beto effect’ to earn a third term back in Washington, D. C.
Babin garnered 160,783 votes or 72.6 percent to his challenger’s 60,751 or 27.4 percent of the vote.
“I just want to thank everyone for their support. I just talked to my opponent on the phone and she has conceded the election,” he said to the raucous applause and cheers from his supporters.
Earlier, there was some concern amongst the Babin staff with the amount of money being raised by his Democratic opponent.
“It’s a little disconcerting when you’re being outraised, especially when you’re seeing money coming in from the east and west coast,” the congressman said.
Steele estimated they would have raised $1 million when they file their final report. It was the most money raised by either party since the creation of the district in 2012 following the 2010 census.
“We were outraised in this campaign, but that’s not unusual for Republican candidates across the United States,” he told the crowd.
None of that money was used for influence in Babin’s campaign, but most of Steele’s money came directly from friends and connections she’s made across the country.
“Not one penny of that was from the Democratic Party or corporations,” she said.
“My husband likes to say I don’t collect things, I collect people. Because I’ve been a local celebrity, writer, and a national speaker, my network is all over,” she said.
Steele said a lot of her east and west coast friends are from Houston and know her as a radio personality.
“My best friend from the second grade donated,” Steele joked. “It was not strangers trying to sway a Texas race, but my friends who know my ethics,” she said.
Despite being underfunded, Babin’s message was simple: ““All we did was deliver the goods.”
He admits not being a professional politician having spent 36 years as a dentist back in his hometown of Woodville, but he was happy to elaborate on the successes of the last two years.
“We brought businesses back to this district. We have four ports that are busier than ever. We’ve got construction booming. The price of oil has come back up and we’re looking at infrastructure projects,” he said to the supporters.
Liberty County Judge Jay Knight and Pct. 2 Commissioner Greg Arthur were happy to see Babin returned to the congressional seat.
“The best thing he’s done for us is his assistance on the flooding issue in our county. He’s been right there beside us elbow-to-elbow,” the judge said, particularly in speeding up claims with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Knight also said he’s been helpful with the federal government side of railroad issues they’ve been discussing including grant money to help address transportation issues in Liberty County.
“It’s always great to have a congressman who will answer our calls and offer us help,” said Pct. 2 Commissioner Greg Arthur.
“He’s always been there for us and I’m glad to be here to support him when he needs our help,” Arthur said.
One of Babin’s few disappointments in the last congress was healthcare.
“We’ve got to rollback Obamacare and get good healthcare for our citizens,” he promised.
“As a healthcare professional, I know how much it’s hurting our folks. We actually passed healthcare reform, but it was turned down by one vote in the Senate,” Babin reminded his voters.
Babin was in town when President Donald Trump made a campaign stop in Houston.
“I rode back to Houston on Air Force One with the president of the United States and he assured me that health care reform was still at the top of the list. We’ve got to give Americans some relief,” he said including more choice and less on the premiums.
Outside of healthcare, he said he and his staff were still in the midst of helping his constituents recover from Hurricane Harvey.
“We’re still working to get ourselves out of Harvey. All nine counties that I represent were declared disaster areas,” he said, “and we still have some folks still living in temporary housing.”
He also praised Trump’s leadership and decisions in restoring the economy and security around the world.
“I haven’t seen a strong leader like this since Ronald Reagan and he may even be stronger than that,” Babin said. “Don’t go by what this president says as much as you go by what he does,” the congressman said. “I think he’s done a tremendous job.”
Steele said she knew the mountain she was climbing in this race.
“We knew it was a tough race from the very beginning,” she admitted.
“I’ve said from the very beginning that a win would be great, but my goal was to get young people involved, give Democrats an example of someone that would speak up, encourage others to run, and to take back the House,” Steele said.
“We still didn’t win, but the goals I set we reached,” she said.
Steele wants every district in the country divided equally.
“It’s an unbelievably gerrymandered district, so until we play fair and we evenly divide every district, it won’t work,” she lamented.
Steele said the 36th congressional district was the 11th ‘reddest’ in the country.
She said it was too soon to decide if she’ll run again.
“I jokingly say it’s like a pregnancy. You have that baby and you swear you’re never doing this again,” she laughed.
She said she’s giving herself at least three months to travel, cook a Thanksgiving meal, regroup, and maybe write another book.
“I’ll tell you in the spring how I feel about it, but I can’t just walk away from it. I’ve made too many friends across the district.”
She plans on staying involved somehow.
Babin revved up his supporters with a closing argument.
“There’s a rumor out there that I’m going to retire,” he laughed. “It’s absolutely untrue and we’re ready to gear up for the 2020 race,” he said.
He invited everyone to make a visit to the Capital and the White House.
“It’s a beautiful place and bring your Southeast Texas values with you and we’ll drop them along the Beltway wherever we can.”