Second in a series

Bill Flores strolled through the Somervell County Courthouse Annex on a recent visit to Glen Rose, greeting workers and meeting with county officials. He posed for pictures, then boarded his campaign van. Then it was onto the next town and the next event in his crowded political itinerary.

A retired oilman and accountant from Houston who moved to Bryan, Flores has his work cut out for him. The 17th Congressional District stretches from south of Bryan to the Tarrant County suburbs. It's not only large, with a lot of ground to cover, but also diverse. But there's a strong factor in his favor – the district tends to be conservative.

It's been ranked as one of the most conservative congressional districts held by a Democrat – Chet Edwards, a seasoned and polished political veteran who lives in Waco. Republicans badly want to claim the seat for their party and have put Edwards in their crosshairs, with Flores as their weapon.

But Edwards has beaten off other contenders before. He defeated Waco businessmen and former television reporter Rob Curnock and Van Taylor, a wealthy businessman who moved from North Dallas to West to run for the position.

Flores, though, touts his 30-year business career and his experience with finance and budgets, and his key beliefs – more limited federal government with less spending, less taxation, less regulation  and less political interference with families and small businesses.

He worked as the chief financial officer for several energy companies. Flores eventually became the chief executive officer and president of Phoenix Exploration, from which he recently retired.

“My entire career has been spent balancing budgets, meeting payrolls and ensuring his companies were focused on producing a good product or service that was better and delivered more effectively than the competition,” Flores said in an interview.

“People hold accountants in high regard,” he adde. “I know how to balance a set of books. “Edwards represents an irresponsible Congress that can't balance the budget. People are really disturbed about that.”

Finances have always been a concern for Flores because he grew up poor. He was born at Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyo., while his father served in the military. Afterward, the family moved back to Stratford in the Panhandle.

As the oldest of six children, Flores had to help support the family. He helped his father work cattle for other ranchers and the cattle in his own herd.

That early lesson instilled him the value of making his own way, he said.

Flores worked his way through college at Texas A&M University and became a member of the Corps of Cadets. After graduating with an accounting degree, he went on to Houston Baptist University and earned an  MBA. He also married his high school sweetheart, Gina. They have been married for more than 30 years two sons.

While Flores said he does not take any vote for granted, he said he sensed a change in the political climate that bodes well for his candidacy.

“The political environment is much, much different than in the past,” Flores said. “You would never have seen a Tea Party only two years ago. But with an out-of-control Congress and a president who doesn't seem responsive to people's needs, people are becoming very concerned about the way the government is going.

“We have not run a candidate like me – a person who has a lot of experience, who knows how to create a job, who didn't want to run,” he added. “It seems to resonate with people.”

Two challenges for him are his ties to the oil and gas industry, which has gotten a black eye with the recent Gulf oil spill, and some political missteps.

A comment  Flores made at a Tea Party event in Waco earlier this year about not supporting federal loan guarantees for nuclear power plants  came back to haunt him. First Flores denied making the statement. When Edwards’ campaign produced the audio and posted it on his his Web site – Flores’ campaign manager had to backtrack on the candidate's remarks.

Flores subsequently explained that circumstances had changed and that Democrats had not passed a comprehensive energy bill. He also said that he viewed expanding Comanche Peak as “critically important for further energy generation” in Texas.

“Due to the lack of a stable and comprehensive national energy policy, it is difficult to obtain financing for nuclear projects,” Flores said. “Thus, I support the use of federal loan guarantees that make these projects possible in today's unstable environment.

“Longer term, I would like to see an environment where federal guarantees will be not be required for nuclear projects,” he added.

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Paid for by Bill Flores for Congress, P.O. Box 6207, Bryan, TX 77805