In the race to succeed retiring libertarian icon Ron Paul, air-conditioning contractor and state lawmaker Randy Weber emerged atop a crowded field of GOP rivals in the 14th District and ultimately defeated a veteran Democrat by playing up his conservative credentials and billing himself as a political outsider.
For the first 58 years of his life, Weber lived within a five-mile radius in his hometown of Pearland, Texas. (He bought a new house in nearby Alvin this year after his residence just outside the district became a frequent attack issue against him in the campaign.) His father owned a gas station and later ran an RV business; he remembers donning an apron and sweeping around the gas pumps at a young age.
After high school, Weber enrolled in Alvin Junior College, where by his own admission he was a subpar student until he became a born-again Christian. Weber said in an interview that his spiritual reawakening happened on his 20th birthday, and he recalls the exact time and location—5:30 p.m. in his bedroom at his parent’s home. It was also at Alvin Junior College that Weber spotted Brenda Smith from across the student union one afternoon. The couple not only celebrated Weber’s victory in the congressional race on Election Day, but also their 36th wedding anniversary.
Soon after getting married, Weber became a new father and began taking night classes at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. Balancing work at his father’s RV business with caring for a new baby and going to school, he recalls, required waking up at 4 a.m. to study and keeping the baby on Wednesdays while his wife went to school to earn a teaching degree.
After graduating from college and a few years of working in the family RV business, Weber was keen to branch out. In 1981, he started Weber’s Air and Heat, making all the service calls and putting flyers on every doorstep in town to drum up business. “Did we struggle? Man, did we,” Weber said, recalling the number of times the electric company threatened to turn off his power. “Nobody came to bail out Randy Weber. My company, I made it the old fashioned way.” Weber continues to operate the business, which now has 10 employees.
In the 1980s, President Reagan’s message of limited government inspired Weber to get politically involved. He became an active party volunteer, as well as a precinct judge and election official. From 1990 to 1996, he served on the Pearland City Council and later was enlisted to run for the Texas House of Representatives. After winning election in 2008, Weber worked on issues ranging from veterans affairs to domestic human trafficking.
In his congressional race, Weber emerged from a field of more than a half-dozen credible GOP contenders, securing endorsements from Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Paul, both of whom were presidential candidates in 2012. He also demonstrated his skill as a fundraiser, earning the distinction of “Young Gun” from the National Republican Congressional Committee.
In the general election, Weber faced off against former Rep. Nick Lampson, a Democrat who attempted to distance himself from the national party platform and who retained some of his local popularity from two earlier stints in Congress. The unique makeup of Texas’s newly drawn 14th District—rife with working-class voters—coupled with the political chops of both men, led the Texas Tribune to dub it the only “real, true, honest-to-goodness competition” in the deeply red state. But its voters’ enmity toward President Obama helped Weber win with ease. While he said he shares many of his famous predecessor’s views, he added, “Will I be a Ron Paul Junior? No, I’ll be Randy Weber Senior.”
Naureen Khan contributed to this article.