Republican primary candidates vying to represent Glen Rose in the halls of Congress to the county courthouse Thursday night got a chance to introduce themselves and take some jabs at the nation’s Democratic leadership during a candidates’ forum sponsored by the Somervell County Republican Club.

About 100 people packed the Somervell County  Citizens Center despite cold, drizzly weather. The turnout indicated that the March 2 primary promises to draw lots of voter attention for two races in particular: the congressional post held by Democrat Chet Edwards of Waco and longtime Somervell County Judge Walter Maynard’s seat. Both are among the most hotly contested races on the primary ballot.

U.S Representative, District 17

Two GOP congressional candidates, Rob Curnock and Timothy Delasandro, showed up in Glen Rose in person. The three other primary candidates – Bill Flores, Dave McIntyre and Chuck Wilson – sent their campaign representatives.

Sarilee Ferguson, Wilson’s campaign manager, opened the congressional candidates’ remarks by drawing a bull’s eye on Edwards. Political analysts have said his congressional district, which stretches from Fort Worth’s southern suburbs to Bryan, is the most Republican one in the country represented by a Democrat.

“Regardless of whom you elect in the primary, the goal is to beat Chet Edwards next November,” she said.

Ferguson noted that Wilson, a property developer, had “deep ties in this district,” having been raised in McLennan County. He received a master’s degree in international business from Baylor University and joined the Central Intelligence Agency, where he served for 10 years, mostly in Africa, and gained experience in security and fighting terrorism.

Wilson believes in fiscal restraint and that “we must defeat the socialist tendencies of this (Obama) administration,” Ferguson added. He also advocates taking care of the military and veteran and providing “the care they need to continue their lives,” she said.

Dave McIntyre’s wife, Cathy, a lecturer at Texas A&M University’s English Language Institute, told the crowd that her husband is concerned that the United States is “on a trajectory to destruction.”

“Nations do not recover from crushing debt,” she said, referring to the federal deficit. The country is slipping “into a black hole from which we will not recover. We are in a very dangerous spot, particularly with the leadership we have now.”

Her husband, a veteran who served 30 years in the U.S. Army, believes in taking care of the military, she added. The candidate has placed billboards along major highways throughout the district that read: “Fire Chet. Hire. Dave.”

Matt Mackowiak, campaign manager for Bill Flores, described his candidate as a ninth-generation Texan who is running for Congress to “rip the gavel from (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi’s hands.”

“He’d like to have you visualize the kind of person you’d like to have on the floor of the House – a team player and consensus builder,” Mackowiak, a former spokesman for U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, said. “We have got to beat Chet Edwards. He’s been long representing this district and acting one way in Washington and one way at home.”

Timothy Delasandro, a registered nurse and U.S. veteran from College Station, warned against invasive government.

“The more Washington can do for you, the more they get to take from you,” he said. He urged the party faithful to send “citizen legislators” to Washington to replace career politicians.

“I am proud to tell you I will be a rookie in Washington. Halleluja!” he said to a round of applause.

Rob Curnock, a small business owner from Waco and a former TV political reporter, said he got to know Edwards when the congressman was running for office. “So I got to see him firsthand and how he said one thing here and another in Washington,” Curnock said. “Chet Edward doesn’t represent us. He represents Nancy Pelosi.”

But he cautioned that it won’t be easy to beat the battle-tested Edwards, an 18-year veteran of Congress who has faced tough challenges before. Curnock, who ran against him in 2008, held Edwards to 53 percent of the vote and carried Somervell County.