Politics

New Pot Super PAC Aims to Unseat Anti-Pot Rep. Sessions

Rules Committee chairman has repeatedly blocked bipartisan medical marijuana legislation from floor vote

Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, speaks with reporters as he leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

One of the most seasoned pro-marijuana activists in the political world has created a super PAC with one goal this November: to unseat notoriously anti-pot Rep. Pete Sessions.

Sessions, the House Rules Committee chairman from Texas’ 32nd District, has for years blocked bipartisan legislation in the House to protect state-sanctioned medical marijuana vendors from federal crackdown, not letting it out of committee for a floor vote.

“I’d bet all my money that we could legalize medical marijuana but for Sessions,” Rob Kampia, who recently started the super PAC Texans Removing Outdated and Unresponsive Politicians, told the Washington Examiner. “[Sessions] is in fact what I call a sphincter who is constipating the process. ... The reason we haven’t won is just process; it’s not content.”

Sessions has such a notorious profile among pro-pot political elements, Kampia indicated, that the $500,000 he plans to raise to oust the 11th-term Republican will go toward amplifying that profile as a main campaign issue.

 “Everyone knows who he is and that he’s our biggest problem on Capitol Hill,” Kampia said. “Half of my job has already been done by Pete Sessions himself. All I’m going to do is pass the hat.”

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Kampia, a libertarian who founded and for years led the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, has already said he’s backing Libertarian candidate Melina Baker.

He’ll also throw cash at whichever Democrat — Collin Allred or Lillian Salerno — wins the May 22 primary runoff, regardless of whether or not he thinks they have a strong pro-marijuana policy.

“It doesn’t matter if they are good on marijuana — we just need [Sessions] out,” Kampia said.

Sessions’ campaign pushed back on the notion that he could be swayed to soften his stance on marijuana policy as other candidates have done when wealthy donors and savvy political operatives have threatened to end their political careers over certain issues.

“Congressman Sessions will not be intimidated by liberal merchants of addiction who imperil the safety of our children with illegal narcotics,” his campaign told the Examiner in a statement.

“Far more people across North Texas appreciate the congressman’s efforts to protect our families by upholding the rule of law,” his campaign said.

Democrats did not even field a candidate in the 32nd District in 2016, but have targeted it this November after Hillary Clinton carried the district by 2 points over President Donald Trump that year.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Likely Republican.

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