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As Texas Congressman John Ratcliffe prepares to take office as the Director of National Intelligence, Republican party leaders in his district are sounding off on what kind of candidate they’re looking for as they consider who to nominate for a spot on the November ballot.

Hopkins County GOP Chairman Donnie Wisenbaker was appointed by Texas GOP Chairman James Dickey as the temporary chair of the CD 4 CDEC—the body of approximately 160 county chairs and precinct chairs who were elected in March and will ultimately decide the nominee.

Wisenbaker said he expected a large number of qualified candidates and was confident “the cream would rise to the top,” but noted CDEC voters have a tall task ahead of them in identifying a candidate of Ratcliffe’s caliber.

“John Ratcliffe is going to leave some pretty big shoes to fill. We thought the world of him because he was an honest conservative; he said what he meant and meant what he said,” said Wisenbaker. “We need someone who exhibits the same qualities. This is a conservative district and we need someone in Congress who reflects that.”

“What we really need is someone just as committed as Ratcliffe was to fighting the liberals in Washington. They don’t take a day off on fighting against us, and there are too many Republicans who think we don’t have to always fight them,” he added.

Marion County GOP Chairman Scott Stebins said he’s looking for a candidate of high character committed to supporting and defending President Donald Trump and the Constitution.

“I am looking for a candidate that will represent East Texas with honor and integrity. I want him or her to support and defend our president like Representative Ratcliffe did in the sham impeachment trial,” said Stebins. “We need a smart and intelligent candidate that supports and defends the Constitution of the United States first and foremost.”

Outgoing Upshur County GOP Chair Cynthia Ridgeway said she won’t be a voter in the CDEC election, but she hopes to bring candidates to Upshur County and host a forum where the local precinct chairs and members of the public can hear from them.

“Ideally, we’d find a candidate who was an early Trump supporter. I think that’s pretty important. But what’s most important is we find someone who is just as trustworthy and diligent as John Ratcliffe was,” said Ridgeway. “He listened to us out here in Upshur County and advocated for us. We need someone who will do the same.”

Thus far, it appears Wisenbaker, Stebins, and the other members of the CDEC will have a number of candidates to choose from. Conversations with party activists revealed there are more than a dozen candidates currently calling around and courting support.

The CDEC election to choose one of them as CD 4’s Republican nominee will take place on August 8 in Hopkins County. More information on that meeting can be found here.