Texas 2020 just got even weirder. Late Monday afternoon, former Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne, an Observer and tea party favorite, announced she is running for Congress. Van Duyne, most recently an appointee of President Donald Trump to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will seek the Republican nomination in Texas' 24th House District. Rep. Kenny Marchant, TX-24's longtime incumbent, announced Monday that he would not seek reelection.
Van Duyne, to put it mildly, has been a colorful figure in local politics for nearly a decade. She first won a seat on the Irving City Council in 2004, before running for mayor in 2011. Her mayoral campaign was powered by her opposition to the Toyota Music Factory complex, putting her at odds with developers. She won, but the complex ended up getting built anyway.
In 2015, Van Duyne became a right-wing hero for pushing for anti-Sharia law City Council resolution after a group of imams set up a Sharia-based dispute resolution practice at the Islamic Center of Irving.
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"Our nation cannot be so overly sensitive in defending other cultures that we stop protecting our own," Van Duyne said in a since-deleted Facebook post.
Later in 2015, she went on Glenn Beck, helping the TV host push the theory that Ahmed Mohamed, the student who was arrested for bringing a disassembled clock to an Irving school, was part of an Islamist plot. Mohamed eventually sued Van Duyne for her role in the controversy that followed his arrest, but the defamation claims against the mayor were dismissed in January 2017.
Van Duyne, a Trumpist Republican before Trumpist Republicans existed, was one of the president's biggest North Texas supporters during the run-up to the 2016 election, going so far as to pen an op-ed in support of the president after the release of the Access Hollywood tape.