Recently, my wife and I were privileged to attend a meet-and-greet with Wesley Hunt, a candidate for Congress in the Texas congressional district we live in. Hunt is an Army veteran and graduate of West Point with one tour of duty in Iraq flying Apache gunships and two in Saudi Arabia as a diplomatic liaison. He has worked in the real estate industry and is active in volunteer organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Hunt met with about 50 of us in a local bar and grill. He was very personable and gave his stump speech, part bio and part policy proposal, with casual, well-practiced skill. One of the most amusing parts of the bio part of his speech was his story of living and working in Ithaca, New York after he left the Army. He enjoyed the disconcertion of his white, liberal friends at dealing with a man who is black, a conservative, and very friendly.
The policy part was what one might expect for a man running for Congress in the Houston area. He is against illegal immigration, mostly because of the drug trafficking it encourages. He is against the Green New Deal because of the harm it would wreak on energy jobs in the Houston area. His issues are standard conservative fare that would come out of the mouth of any Republican candidate running for national office.
Hunt then opened the floor for questions and answers. When it came my turn to engage the candidate, I first thanked him for his service. Then I asked him, “NASA’s Artemis return to the moon program. Good Idea? Bad idea? Some thoughts?”
I had expected that I would get the standard answer that, in effect, says space exploration is a good thing. However, Hunt displayed some extra knowledge. He was aware of the commercial aspects of Artemis and knew about Elon Musk and SpaceX’s activities down in Boca Chica. He also mentioned that the technology that flows out of the space program is a good thing.
Then I asked Hunt the same question about the Space Force. On this issue, the candidate was a little more skeptical. He seemed to feel that the Air Force was doing a good enough job on space warfare. However, he was not fervently against the idea of a Space Force, either.
I asked Hunt if he knew about HR 5666, the bill that is winding its way through the House that would, among other things, cut out commercial participation in the Artemis program. He had not. I suggested that he might look into it.
Hunt is gunning for the Congressional seat of Lizzie Fletcher, the former corporate lawyer who is the current representative for the 7th District of Texas. Fletcher knocked off the previous representative, John Culberson, by attacking his support of space and science projects, especially the Europa Clipper, under development to explore the ice-bound moon of Jupiter Europa. Many scientists believe that a warm water ocean exists beneath the ice layer of Europa which might contain alien life.
Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire publisher and former mayor of New York who is currently running for president, ran an ad on behalf of Fletcher that ridiculed the very idea of exploring Europa in the most mocking terms. Fletcher, the ad said, was more “down to Earth.”
The ad and statements made by Fletcher made her seem to be every middle school mean girl who ever made fun of the science nerds. But the commercial worked. Fletcher won during the 2018 midterms.
If Wesley Hunt makes Lizzie Fletcher a one-term member of congress, the revenge will taste sweet to anyone who cares about science and space.