By Matt Hollis

A former South Houston police chief has announced he is running for the Texas’ 36th Congressional District seat, currently held by U.S. Rep. Brian Babin. 

R.J. Boatman, who served as South Houston’s police chief from 1990 to 1999, said he is going to challenge Babin as a Republican in the March primaries. 

“It is not really about Congressman Babin, but it is about the constituents, it is about America,” Boatman said. “The things I believe in are the things we stand for in this district. I was born here, I was raised here, and I’ll be buried here. I feel like everything I have done in my life is a calling. I trust my faith in my God to make the right decisions in life.”

A spokesman on Wednesday said Babin will seek re-election.

Boatman said he has been thinking about a run since 2014 when Babin first won the seat. 

“I did not feel like we needed to run in 2014, 2016 or 2018. But 2020 is what I feel called to do,” Boatman said. “I do not consider this a prizefight. This is more like two highly qualified, worthy quarterbacks trying out in a preseason game and let the voters make the decision.”

Boatman said things are changing for the worse and feels his values are in danger of being discarded by opposing political ideologies.  

“I was born in this country when good old Southern Conservatives were still called Democrats,” he said. “I did not leave the Democratic Party, but rather it left me. I stand for what a classic Conservative stands for and I have seen this country turn really hard. I know what we are heading to in 2020 if Democrats take over more of our political processes. They took Harris County in the last two elections. I just know where we are going to be if we do not stand strong and fight.”

Boatman has worked at the Harris County Department of Education and served as a municipal judge in South Houston. 

“I worked in at-risk youth programs, school safety and security programs, and then I was promoted pretty quickly,” Boatman said. “I didn’t stay at the county long, but got the program built and established. Then, I worked for the State Department of Education, worked in education centers and (the Texas Education Agency), which allowed me to consult and do work in other states and with U.S. Department of Education, which is how I made friends in Washington, D.C.”

Boatman said the struggles he has seen in the school systems has also motivated him to run for public office. 

“I am a good Conservative, I believe in a hand up not a handout,” Boatman said. “We need to build capacity, not dependency. Our schools are beginning to fail us, our law enforcement programs are in trouble, and we’ve lost the relationship between the street beat police officer and the community they serve. People are shooting police officers like never before. I think it has created a dangerous world and situation. We need to get to the basics of America and be patriots. We need to stay focused.”

Boatman is a strong supporter of Trump and his “America First” agenda.

“I am running for Congress because the constituents of the 36th District deserve a leader who will listen to their needs and concerns and stand up for them,” Boatman said. “Southeast Texans deserve someone who fully supports our president and will do everything possible to keep Americans safe. I want our congressman to focus on the Texas values of faith, family, and constituent services. I want to make our home the best place to raise a family. I’ve raised my family here, and I want to see my children and grandchildren grow up in a Southeast Texas that is prospering.”

“Dr. Babin will seek re-election and plans to have a formal campaign kickoff at a later date. For now, he is focused on working with President Trump to finish the border wall, close the loopholes that are plaguing our immigration system, and securing a clear path for our national space program,” Jason Hebert, general consultant for Babin’s campaign, said. 

Boatman and his wife, Terri, live in Clear Lake City and have two adult sons. 

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