U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw will take the stage at the Republican National Convention Wednesday night as the sole GOP elected official from Texas with a prime time speaking slot.
He’ll appear alongside New York Rep. Elise Stefanik before an address by Vice President Mike Pence. Crenshaw and Stefanik, both 36, are the youngest Republicans members of the House.
Crenshaw is considered a rising star in Texas politics. But this November, he is facing a challenge from Houston attorney Sima Ladjevardian in a race that’s drawing attention from national Democrats. His speech will matter not just for President Trump’s campaign but also for his own. Here’s what you need to know about the Houston Republican:
- Before running for office in 2018, Crenshaw served 10 years as a Navy SEAL. In 2012, during his third of five deployments, he lost his right eye in combat in Afghanistan when he was hit by an IED explosion, causing him to wear an eye patch. He received two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart among other awards and recognitions. He then attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University after retiring from the military in 2016.
- Days before the midterm elections, Pete Davidson joked about Crenshaw on Saturday Night Live, saying that he looked like a “hit man in a porno movie” and lost his eye in a “war or whatever.” Davidson received immense backlash and made an on-air apology the next week, with a surprise appearance from Crenshaw, who took stabs at Davidson in return. In the end, the two made an appeal to Americans who disagree on politics, saying that they want people to “still see the good in each other.” Crenshaw received major media attention for his appearance on the show.
- Crenshaw won the open seat in the 2nd Congressional District after six-term U.S. Rep. Ted Poe announced his retirement. He defeated Democrat Todd Litton by an 8 percentage point point margin after winning the runoff against Kevin Roberts, then a state representative. His district is known to be one of the most gerrymandered in the country, stretching across parts of northern and western Houston.
- Crenshaw is seen as a rising star in the party, and has appeared on “The View” and other prominent television shows. He has at times expressed independence from President Donald Trump, particularly on issues of foreign policy. But many other times he has backed the president up — and won praise from Trump in return. On TV, he has defended Trump’s comments in the aftermath of violence at a rally by white supremacists and Trump himself once tweeted a video clip of Crenshaw defending the president’s coronavirus response. Recently, Crenshaw came under fire after questioning U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s patriotism. Duckworth is an Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient who lost both of her legs due to severe combat wounds. In an online meet-up for Trump supporters, Crenshaw claimed that Duckworth supported the “destruction of America” after she suggested that there be a dialogue about the removal of statues and monuments of the founding fathers.
- Crenshaw’s seat is one 10 Republican-held districts in Texas that national Democrats are trying to flip. Ladjevardian, his opponent, is a Houston attorney and former Beto O’Rourke adviser. “While Dan Crenshaw is getting rewarded for his loyalty to Donald Trump with a primetime speaking slot, Sima Ladjevardian is fighting to guarantee the high-quality, affordable health care that Houston families desperately need,” Ladjevardian spokesman Dan Gottlieb said in an email on Tuesday. While a well-known Democratic fundraiser, Ladjevardian may have trouble beating Crenshaw on that front. She ended June with just $545,046 cash on hand compared to Crenshaw’s $4 million. The Cook Political Report currently ranks the race as “Likely Republican.”