Most members of the construction industry in Texas support President Bush, and that includes owners and workers alike. "One reason I wouldn’t vote for Mr. Kerry is that Mr. Bush’s policies support small businesses,’’ says Michelle Seward, chief financial officer for Joeris General Contractors, a San Antonio firm with about $100 million in annual business.

"I’m from Texas and I think a Texas president will keep money in this area,’’ says Dudley Butler, a construction superintendent working for Joeris on a hospital job. He says he is not a staunch Republican but feels "we would be in a world of hurt’’ if a Democrat had been in office on Sept. 11, 2001. "Republicans are tough on terrorism,’’ Butler says. One major concern is the Democrats’ gun control stance. "I’m for guns and my views reflect those of many people who work for me. We like to hunt,’’ he says. And like others in the area, Butler favors the open shop approach.

Some owners feel the same way. "Bush is more open shop, which rewards how good you are, not what club you’re in. That’s my biggest issue,’’ says Rick Smith, president of Keller Martin, a small San Antonio general contractor. Ron Litwornia, a superintendent for the firm, agrees. "I grew up in New Jersey and my friends were union workers with great benefit packages, but I’m more of an individual," he says. "I believe your experience and performance is what should determine your employment."

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Litwornia says he doesn’t always vote Republican but supports the President’s efforts to improve education. "I would like to see more construction-related classes in high schools,’’ he says. Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards’ background as a trial attorney is one reason to stay away from Kerry-

Edwards. "The first thing everyone worries about on a jobsite is getting sued, whether it’s real or bogus," says Litwornia. "Going to work is like going swimming in shark-infested waters.’’

Litwornia is also concerned about U.S. energy policy. "We need to get the [Environmental Protection Agency] away from control of where we drill for oil," he says. "We need more oil and it’s not coming from the Middle East.’’

But not everyone in Texas likes the GOP in this election. Paul Davila, an assistant superintendent with Joeris, says he was far better off financially under Democrats. "I was making $16 an hour when Jimmy Carter was in office, and it only took three years under Ronald Reagan for me to be out of a job," he says. "When Bush was elected, I thought the world was going to end again."

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