By Justin Cox

Killeen Daily Herald

Today marks two months before Election Day Nov. 4, and candidates are looking for support from big names in the county, particularly in hotly-contested races like House District 55.

As the Republican Party welcomes presidential nominee John McCain for his nomination speech tonight at the National Convention, former adversaries will unite behind the single candidate and throw their political weight behind their party's representative.

But in a county without a Democrat in a public office, District 55 candidate Sam Murphey has nowhere to turn but outside the county for big name support.

Today at 3 p.m., Waco Congressman Chet Edwards, fresh off his trip to the Democratic National Convention in Denver last week, will officially endorse Murphey, who worked for 16 years as the congressman's district director. The event will take place at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 4008 in Belton, where a large contingent of veterans is expected, as is Alexander Vernon, former state commander of Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars, who will voice his support for Murphey as well.

The showing of political support is a welcome sight for Murphey, as Republican Ralph Sheffield has been pulling in support from Republicans not only throughout the county, but throughout the state.

Sheffield welcomed former District 55 Rep. Dianne White Delisi earlier this summer along with House Speaker Tom Craddick as they helped the longtime Temple businessman put campaign money together in a fundraiser. And on Oct. 2, Sheffield will welcome Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison to the Expo Center for a fundraising luncheon.

Edwards will attend a fundraiser for Murphey tonight in Salado.

Murphey said Edwards' support, particularly with the veterans, is a boost because of Edwards' longtime influence in Bell County.

"I think it's fair to say that Chet is the most popular politician in Bell County, and he hasn't represented it in four years," Murphey said. "Chet's going to endorse my campaign. Veterans are a key part of my constituency, and Chet has been a champion for veterans. This is the roll out of veterans for Murphey, and then we'll be down in Salado for a fundraiser. He's coming down here to help me out."

Public endorsements haven't been limited to political figures, as Sheffield will be publicly endorsed at 10 a.m. by the Texas Municipal Police Association Temple on Main Street in downtown. Last week, Sheffield also garnered the public support of the Texas Farm Bureau and Home PAC, the political arm of the Central Texas Homebuilders Association.

"The main thing it means is they understand how good the Republican House has been in getting things done in a positive manner," Sheffield said Wednesday. "My ability to work with fellow Republicans, I may not agree with everything and every group out there, I might not even know the true needs, but they know I can bring a group of people together so that I can weigh everything in a cooperative manner."

Contact Justin Cox at or (254) 501-7568.

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