AUSTIN — State Sen. Donna Campbell of New Braunfels, a tea party darling, has drawn her first challenger for the 2014 Republican primary.
Mike Novak, a former Bexar County commissioner and one-time chairman of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, told the San Antonio Express-News on Tuesday that he plans to challenge Campbell in Senate District 25, which includes northern Bexar and parts of five other counties.
“There is clearly a disconnect between Donna (Campbell) and a large sector of the constituents,” said Novak, 61, adding that Campbell’s career as a doctor and lack of elected positions “does not translate to the type of experience you need to be effective in the Capitol. That is a different world.”
Novak is a longtime San Antonio business owner and entrepreneur who owned niche construction companies and now owns an air conditioning and energy business in San Marcos with his son.
He served as a Republican county commissioner from 1995-1998 and as chairman of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce in 2004.
Novak said he’s well versed in economic development and plans to focus on transportation, business and water policies during the campaign. He said plans to file for candidacy “sooner than later” and that his campaign team is a “work in progress.”
Campbell, 58, is an emergency room doctor who served her first term in the Senate — her first elected position — after defeating seven-term incumbent state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, in 2012 with 66 percent in the primary.
While state senators normally are elected to four-year terms, Campbell drew a two-year term when senators held a post-redistricting drawing early this year.
Campbell is a fiscal and social conservative who was one of three senators who voted against the state budget — in part, she said, because of the lack of transportation funding — and was a vocal backer of the sweeping abortion restrictions approved by the Legislature.
Campbell was named one of five “Courageous Conservative” senators by the Texas Conservative Coalition.
“Sen. Campbell has accomplished exactly what the people of San Antonio and Central Texas elected her to do,” spokesman Jon Oliver said. “She has boosted funding for roads while opposing taxes and tolls, improved our schools with real education reforms, and passed meaningful pro-life and Second Amendment legislation. I am confident the people of District 25 will overwhelmingly re-elect her on the strength of this record.”
The senator from District 25 will represent more than 1 million Texans including Comal, Guadalupe, Hays and Kendall counties and northern Bexar and southern Travis counties.