Kevin Couch: The most interesting man in Texas politics
By Jennifer Wood
Kevin Couch doesn’t enter a room so much as he explodes into it. Couch – the Republican outsider vying for an open seat in the Texas House of Representatives – literally turns heads. He floats from conversation to conversation, seemingly already acquainted with a dizzying array of folks from all walks of life.
And when you understand what he came from and what he went through to get here, it’s easy to see where that downhome, everyman mentality found its roots.
“All the issues we’re focused on with this campaign, from illegal immigration to tax reform to education, these are all things I’ve dealt with personally at some point in my life,” said Couch, a former Sherman City Councilman who made a name for himself as a fiscal hawk. “These issues are very personal to me. I’ve seen firsthand how much change we need in Austin.”
Kevin Couch was born in Denison to a lower middle class family and raised by a mother who worked three jobs to support her four children – Kevin the youngest among them. It was a hardscrabble existence, growing up a block off of Spur 503, but it instilled in him both empathy and a thick skin.
“I mean, we lived week-to-week at times, but it definitely made us all closer,” said Couch. “Looking up to my mom as a kid – she’s been such an incredibly important mentor in my life – and seeing what she went through to provide for me, it taught me the value of hard work, and to never take anything for granted.”
It was because of his mother’s hard work that Kevin’s upbringing still included all the hallmarks of youth in Texas – football, plenty of country music, and, of course, church on Sunday.
“There’s no telling where I would have ended up if not for the influence of Pastor Raymond England, and my church,” said Couch. “It was huge. When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior at 7 years old, my life was never the same. It sent me down a path that has led me here today.”
Not surprisingly, “youth pastor” was his first paying job. From there, life took over. A self-taught musician, accomplished on the drums, piano, and guitar, Couch spent time touring with a band, traveling the country and spreading warmth – his music and smile all along the way.
When he returned to North Texas in 2012, he was immediately drawn to entrepreneurship. Couch utilized the skills he developed as communications director at Sherman Bible Church to found CBC Creative, a marketing firm which has since grown into Texoma’s premier agency.
Then, in 2014, Couch made the leap and decided to run for office. With a campaign built from scratch on scrappy hard work and a committed effort to be seemingly everywhere, he defeated a well-known former city employee/community activist by double digits. His campaign victory party featured everyone from future Grayson County Sheriff Tom Watt to District Attorney Joe Brown.
“It really restored some of my faith in our political institutions,” recalled Couch. “To think that a total political outsider – an entrepreneur with no political experience whatsoever – can still beat the system by outworking the political establishment, it was vindicating.”
Couch wasted no time getting to work. He immediately began pushing to slash regulations, creating Sherman’s first policy to allow food trucks to operate in the city. He voted to relax harsh rules on property owners, took a stand against higher property tax rates, and even led an effort for an all-out repeal of the city’s job tax.
He wasn’t afraid to stand up when times got tough, either. Never one to shy away from holding the media accountable, Couch took the lead in the city’s response to a frivolous lawsuit filed by a disgraced former employee. He faced the eye of the media storm head on.
“Look, politics is no all kissing babies; when he public has questions, those in public service absolutely must stand up and demand transparency,” Couch explained. “I’ve seen it far too often – when times get tough, politicians hide their heads in the sand. That’s not me. I’m a fighter.”
And a fight is exactly where Kevin Couch finds himself today. After Couch announced his intention to run as a conservative outsider for Texas House District 62 – encompassing Grayson, Fannin, and Delta counties – longtime HD 62 Rep. Larry Phillips abruptly resigned. But in doing so, Phillips attempted to anoint his replacement from the Republican establishment: Reginald B. Smith, Jr., Esq., a longtime political operative and local lawyer.
But for Couch, it’s all water off a duck’s back.
“I was always going to be the underdog in this race,” he said. “Whoever the establishment ran against me was going to have lobbyist connections and highfalutin fundraisers in Austin. My goal in this campaign isn’t to spend the most money; it’s to spend the most time talking with the people in the district.”
And in those conversations he’s had across House District 62, those familiar themes have already emerged: illegal immigration, skyrocketing property taxes, and a general distrust of politicians and the bushel of lobbyists and lawyers they keep in their back pocket.
“None of this is surprising to me; these are issues that conservative voters have been complaining about for decades,” Couch said. “They keep sending people to Austin to try and find solutions, and what they get instead is more lies, more half-truths, and more broken promises. No wonder people are so fed up – I’m fed up too!”
On a recent Monday night, Couch found himself among a group of salt-of-the-earth Republicans in rural Fannin County – a retired school teacher, a single father of three young boys, and two elderly farmers who’ve never known another home.
“I’m so sick of these career politicians and these Party insiders abandoning their ideals as soon as they get elected,” said one of the farmers. “Can you promise us you’re not one of them?”
“That’s an easy promise to make,” replied Couch with a chuckle. “I’ve been a lot of things in my life, but ‘career politician’ will never be one of them.”
To learn more about Kevin Couch and to follow him on his campaign, visit www.couchfortexas.com.