A “new, conservative voice.” That’s what Athens’s 117th state House District has in Houston Gaines’s recently announced candidacy. His Athenian blood, alumnus status at the University of Georgia, and accomplishments on and off campus in his time there all complement the slogan favorably.
Speaking to the Red & Black, Gaines describes his beliefs in regard to government: “low taxes and smaller government, the value of free enterprise and personal responsibility.” These principles no doubt curry favor with the conservative electorate, and it should serve as no surprise that Gaines is, in fact, an alumnus of that beacon of collegiate conservatism, The Arch Conservative, in its earliest of days.
Ideas are vital to a candidate’s success, as much as that may not seem to be the case of late, and Gaines has made his plain. But, as we know, no constituency will accept an imposter as their representative. Such things make quite a difference. Gaines, however, need not worry. He is a third-generation Athenian, grandson of the late Judge Joseph Gaines, graduate of the University of Georgia, and has proven himself an involved member of the Athens community.
To complement both his principled ideology and his hometown heritage, his age is also on his side. This Republican district, currently held by Representative Regina Quick, will likely take solace in the representation of young conservatives that Gaines indirectly provides. The image factor of a revitalized conservative candidate is helped by his youth and should inspire confidence in the stereotypically older conservative voters. Despite his youth, though, Gaines’s resume inspires even more confidence. In fact, the combination is doubly impressive.
Gaines served as student body president in his time at UGA and accomplished a great deal of worthwhile efforts. What follows is a summary of his from an SGA Facebook post:
“We changed the medical amnesty policy to save lives. We ensured more study space during final exams. Worked to promote mental wellness on campus. Increased transparency in student fees. Improved the late night transit system.
For the first time in school history, SGA helped bring a voting site on campus. We successfully worked to push back this coming fall’s academic calendar to allow more students to complete their internships.
We’ve worked hard to bring more free and reduced cost online textbooks to classrooms. We held a listening tour where we visited with more than 200 student organizations to get their feedback and see what issues are most important to them.”
Gaines also “graduated summa cum laude and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Blue Key Honor Society and several other organizations.” Off-campus, Houston “serves on the Envision Athens Steering Committee and Junior League of Athens Community Advisory Board. Houston previously served on the LEAD Athens Alumni Association Board of Directors and multiple K-12 and University of Georgia boards. He is a 2015 LEAD Athens graduate. As part of his team’s project, he helped found Automatic for Autism, an effort that raised funds and awareness for families struggling to afford the costs of autism therapy.”
Gaines has garnered support from Athens Mayor Nancy Denson among others and has done substantially well in fundraising efforts for the campaign. The hour is early, and supporters would do well to knock on some wood here, but the Gaines campaign is off to a great start.
The Arch Conservative will continue to follow Houston’s campaign as well as the race overall. Stay tuned for an exclusive Q&A with Houston soon.
—Nick Geeslin is Editor-in-Chief of The Arch Conservative.