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In the race to replace retiring Congressman Mike Conaway, congressional hopeful Casey Gray isn’t afraid to speak his mind or stand up for what he believes.

Gray, 38, resides in Odessa with his wife Brittnie and is a proud father of five.

A retired military veteran, Gray has attended the Boots in Business program through Syracuse University and has hours towards a degree in history from the University of Maryland.

“I had three jobs at an early age and got a provisional driver’s license at 15,” Gray said, recalling his early life. “When I was in high school, I was poor. We had Hamburger Helper without the hamburger,” Gray said with a chuckle.

“The thing I like to say about capitalism and a free market, though, is if you want more money, all you have to decide is to work harder, and you can earn that money.”

Before joining the military, Gray worked for IRI International, which later became National Oil Well Varco.

Gray outlined how he has served in two separate branches of the military. He first joined the Navy at age 17, where he worked in Naval Special Warfare and, among other details, earned his Ranger tab at Fort Benning, Georgia. In addition to military service, Gray says he has also worked in the intelligence community; his campaign website includes a section about his work with the Central Intelligence Agency.

After his service in the Navy, Gray then enlisted in the Texas Army National Guard 19 special forces group and was severely injured in a helicopter crash while deployed with that unit. Gray retired from the military in 2015.

Before moving back to his hometown of Odessa, Gray lived in California for a time. It was there that he started the paperwork to run for Congress, contemplating a challenge against Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California), but he says he ultimately opted against running when he didn’t have enough time to prepare.

Now officially on the campaign trail seeking to represent the large 11th Congressional District, Gray says he is enjoying the sometimes 18-hour days, driving hundreds of miles across Texas.

“I love having the opportunity to meet so many passionate residents in our district.”

When asked what his first priorities would be if elected, Gray explained that veterans’ care and helping constituents with bureaucracies would be something he acts on immediately.

“I would like to find out if any of my constituents have any active problems with any federal agencies taking unconstitutional actions, and I will personally launch congressional inquiries immediately to hold them accountable—starting with the VA, in particular,” Gray stated.

Gray explained in further detail his position on veterans’ healthcare:

“In particular, I think we need to switch veteran medical care to a private healthcare system, where the patient gets to choose their doctor and gets the best care possible as quickly as possible.”

On border security, Gray says he believes that walls work because he has seen them work overseas.

Regarding gun rights, he supports repealing the National Firearms Act, supports passing pro-suppressor legislation, opposes red-flag laws, and supports nationwide constitutional carry.

In addition to supporting term limits on Congress and being staunchly pro-life, Gray’s platform goes into an area the rest of the candidates haven’t—the support of medical marijuana. Gray says he believes marijuana should be moved from a Schedule 1 categorization to Schedule 3, so doctors can decide what is appropriate for the patient’s medical needs.

With Texans facing the redistricting of political maps in the next term, Gray weighed in on the issue, saying, “We must have a congressman who understands [redistricting] and will protect Midland and Odessa, or we will lose in redistricting.”

Rumors have been circulating that there may be attempts to split the two cities into separate districts when the new maps are drawn. Gray said splitting the two would be like “tearing them apart.”

Some of his endorsements include Rooster McConaughey and Butch Gilliam of the famed West Texas Investors Club, Tuff Hedeman, Ronnie Raines, and Christian evangelist Nick Vujicic.

Gray’s closing message to voters:

“I ask that you don’t let District 11 be bought with lobbyist money by a RINO who never registered to vote in his life until he decided to move here to run for Congress. I am asking for your grassroots vote and your help to keep this district in the hands of a true conservative and a true Texan. I served this country, and I am ready to serve you again.”

Early voting in the March 3 Republican Primary Election begins on February 18.