The Magazine

The Next GOP Senator from Texas

Michael Williams's bid to succeed Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Dec 28, 2009, Vol. 15, No. 15 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

While he credits his parents and his Catholic faith for instilling a "conservative values system" in him, the thinkers who most influenced his political evolution are Milton Friedman and Thomas Sowell. "Even though I didn't think of myself as a conservative, I was always reading. I was always examining my own thoughts," Williams says. Friedman's Free to Choose helped him realize that the welfare state played a big role in keeping the poor and vulnerable from succeeding. And Sowell was "central" to him. "It was important to me," Williams explains, not only to find affirmation for "my own thoughts and thinking and in many ways to expand my understanding of these values and principles, but to get it from somebody that looked like me."

"People would say, 'Someone who looks like you cannot think what you think,'" says Williams. "That rarely happens nowadays."

Those attacks may revive once the Senate race heats up in Texas. Williams is the "Democrat party's worst nightmare," says DeMint. The Democrats do not want an impressive minority Republican on the national stage, and they may play the race card.

At the same time, Williams acknowledges that his race creates an opening for him to "have a conversation with other African Americans." He insists, though, "We've got to go beyond symbolism to real solutions."

"I would much prefer the story-line be 'consistent, courageous, conservative from Texas comes to Washington,' " he says. "The real story is not the one of race. The real story is that you've got a new Republican who's going to rally the next generation of Americans around conservative solutions."

John McCormack is deputy online editor of THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

Correction: An earlier version of this article reported that Houston mayor Bill White is running for Senate. He dropped out of the Senate race on December 4 and is now running for governor.