A third Democrat has entered the race for Texas’ 17th Congressional District, hoping to unseat U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan.

Rick Kennedy, 55, of Round Rock, said he wants to be part of an incoming class of representatives set on restoring political process on a Capitol Hill fraught with divisiveness.

“This can’t be the blue version of a tea party election,” Kennedy said. “It’s got to be, we’re bringing this thing back to a functioning government that is going to be able to make progress the old fashioned way with principled compromise when it’s necessary.”

Kennedy lives about five miles outside District 17. A Massachusetts native, he has lived in Round Rock since 2006 and has spent more than 30 years working in software development and information technology. He has never run for political office before, nor have his March primary opponents: Dale Mantey, of Rockdale, and Scott Sturm, of New Braunfels.

District 17 includes all or parts of McLennan, Bastrop, Brazos, Burleson, Falls, Freestone, Lee, Leon, Limestone, Milam, Robertson and Travis counties.

Kennedy supports universal healthcare for the United States, though he expects that step, an increasingly popular policy goal among progressive lawmakers, will not be taken for decades. His other platforms focus on immigration reform and research on gun violence.

“These guys have run on ‘repeal and replace’ for four election cycles,” he said, referring to Republicans’ plans for the Affordable Care Act. “And now they’re in, and they can’t get anything done. So I think a lot of that frustration is going to bubble over to, hopefully, a more rational look at things. Anger wins elections, but anger doesn’t govern very well.”

Flores, the former chairman of the influential Republican Study Committee, has criticized GOP senators for not considering legislation, including a health plan, passed by the House.

Toeing traditional party stances in recent months, Flores has called for a ban on “bump stocks,” the removal of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump from their White House positions, and a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants.

Kennedy sees Flores’ immigration position as a “convenient” political position and said the four-term congressman could be vulnerable among Republican voters frustrated by inaction.

He said he wants a Congress that would “stop leveraging the divisions in our society to win elections and actually put people before party and country before party.”

Phillip Ericksen joined the Tribune-Herald in March 2015 as a sports copy editor. That November, he joined the news team. He has covered higher education, city hall, politics and crime.

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