Texas Republican Chip Roy, who has said there is public “hysteria” about the threat of global climate change, defeated his Democratic opponent to fill a seat vacated by retiring GOP Rep. Lamar Smith, an oil industry ally and one of Washington’s most stalwart deniers of climate science.
Roy, the former chief of staff for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), defeated Joseph Kopser (D), an aerospace engineer and Army veteran from Austin, to win Texas’ 21st Congressional District.
Smith, the 14th-longest-serving member of the U.S. House and controversial chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, announced last year that he would not seek re-election. The San Antonio native has a long history of harassing federal climate scientists and dismissing the threat of climate change, recently going so far as to say that pumping the atmosphere full of carbon dioxide is “beneficial.”
Roy, who received Smith’s endorsement, told the San Antonia News-Express in May that he and the outgoing congressman agree about “the hysteria around climate change” and said there is an abundance of “misinformation out there about the extent of man’s impact on temperatures on the Earth.”
“I don’t know,” Roy said when asked if he believes there’s any link between human activity and climate change. “What I know is that our lives are made so immeasurably better by the availability of affordable, abundant energy.”
Left-leaning voters had high hopes of electing a Democrat in the heavily gerrymandered and historically Republican district.