GATESVILLE — The preservation of religious freedoms, the economy, the Second Amendment, America’s energy policy, health care, education, border security and abortion were all discussed Saturday as the Coryell County Republican Party hosted its seventh annual fish fry fundraiser at the Gatesville Civic Center.

Local officials seeking election in November and others looking ahead to next year’s state races came to share their views and energize the crowd.

U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, promoted the “defunding and abolishing of Obamacare, the strengthening of domestic energy policy, the strengthening of our military, and the enabling of the private sector to balance the federal budget” as he gave his keynote speech to the crowd.

Williams described himself as “a Christian, conservative, grassroots, pro-life, Second Amendment, businessman that is working hard to do the right thing in D.C.”

He also said his platform includes “lower taxes, less government.” He wants to “cut the spending, defend the borders, listen to your generals, understand the 10th Amendment, and always be a friend of Israel.” He described himself as “a job creator” who faces the same challenges as other job creators and interjected, “this Obama economy is a killer.”

He described the Republicans’ current political struggle as a contest of “socialism against entrepreneurialism,” and with reference to the Republican Party’s role in the future, he asked, “Are we going to be sheep, or are we going to be shepherds?”

Tom Pauken, who’s running for governor in 2014, spoke of his work in the 1964 Goldwater campaign and later service under President Ronald Reagan. He also recounted his service in the Vietnam War, as well as his work for Gov. Rick Perry with the Texas Workforce Commission.

Pauken related all these experiences to the platform for his candidacy, saying, “The next conservative revolution is not going to come out of Washington, D.C. It’s not going to come out of Austin insiders either. It’s going to come out of the grassroots.”

State Rep. J.D. Sheffield, R-Gatesville, presented an update of his service in Texas’ 83rd legislative session, as well as his platform for re-election.

District 59 challenger, Danny Pelton, then took the opportunity to challenge Sheffield’s voting record with respect to “Obamacare,” although he said, “I agree with Mr. Sheffield when it comes to education.”

Other speakers of the night included Ed Thompson, former Coryell County GOP chairman; event coordinator Peggy Thompson; Barry Smitherman, a candidate for attorney general; Eric Opiela, a candidate for agriculture commissioner; Todd Staples, a candidate for lieutenant governor; David Watts, a candidate for land commissioner; Will Holleman, a representative for Greg Abbott’s gubernatorial campaign; and Howard Ray, another candidate for Texas House District 59.

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