By Justin Cox

Killeen Daily Herald

In the race for House District 55, new participants are taking sides like kids on a playground naming teams for kickball.

But these guys are keeping score, and they want to see action in the state house.

On Wednesday, Will Newton, the Texas chapter executive director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the nation's largest small business political action group, endorsed Republican candidate Ralph Sheffield during a short press conference at a small, privately owned business in Temple.

Newton said the NFIB's influence is significant in other parts of the country, and in Texas, is still growing with more than 25,000 members' businesses in the state. It's important, he said, to publicly support people of like mind and philosophy.

And no one fits that mold better than Sheffield, who has run a campaign since Day 1 on his 34-year tenure as a small business owner in Central Texas, and the reallife struggles and experience he has attained over a lifetime in the business.

Newton said the group sends questionnaires to first-time candidates throughout the state to gauge their potential to carry on the groups' ideals.

Democratic nominee Sam Murphey cashed in a pair of endorsements, as well. The state's two largest teacher political committees, the Texas State Teachers' Association and the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, picked Murphey for their team.

Murphey said he's behind the teachers and was given a firm show of support from numerous teachers gathered at the Temple High School library Wednesday evening.

Mildred Swift represented TSTA, and is a teacher at Manor Middle School in Killeen.

Swift said a change is needed, and now.

"We are very tired of the education system and the way it is now," Swift said. "Sam is the person. The 65,000-member Texas State Teachers Association is the oldest education organization in Texas."

While Newton said it's clear the NFIB endorses candidates who can better further the group's interests, he emphasized that the organization is non-partisan; of the 80 or so House candidates the organization has endorsed this election year, their breakdown shows a split down party lines – about 60 percent Republican and 40 percent Democrat.

Those two figures are much closer than the numbers groups like the TSTA and Texas AFT pull as part of the historically liberal AFL-CIO.

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

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