Speaking Monday in Brownwood, U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway made no predictions as to which party will be in power in the House and Senate after the mid-term elections.  

“It could go either way at this point,” the Republican congressman said at a round table luncheon, hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at the Adams Street Community Center. A small group of members of the business and civic community attended and heard Conaway speak on multiple topics that included tax and regulatory reform.

Conaway said there is “clear support” for President Donald Trump’s tax cuts and support for making them permanent. 

Brownwood businessman Robert Porter, one of several who asked questions or offered comments, said he’s seen in the business community after Trump’s election there would be “a rule of law that was supportive of business.” Porter said the tax cuts have encouraged businesses “to release capital off their balance sheets and invest it … positive all the way around.”

Speaking on the mid-term elections, Conaway said, “there could be an October surprise. None of us right now can predict what the key issue will be, what will change voters’ minds one way or the other. Republicans in the House, and Republican challengers know exactly what’s in front of them, how much hard work’s got to get done to prove to voters that maintaining control of the House, and having a Republican speaker versus Speaker Pelosi, (and) a Republican leader of Financial Services as opposed to Maxine Waters being chairman — just how important that is.”

Conaway faces Democratic challenger Jennie Lou Leeder in the November election.

Conaway said Sen. Chuck Schumer and other Democrats “believe this is going to be their election. They think that they’re going to sweep the table, particularly on the House side. … We’ve got some Republicans that are in some really tough circumstances. … we all see that Titanic-like iceberg coming at us in the fall.”

In Texas, Sen. Ted Cruz faces the toughest state-wide race, Conaway said. Cruz faces Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke, who, Conaway said, is working hard and has visited Brownwood. “I believe Ted wins, but if O’Rourke comes within 10 points of him, that’s going to look like a victory to the Democrats around the rest of the world.” 

Conaway gave some observations of the 45th president and the media coverage that Trump draws.

“There’s an awful lot of noise,” Conaway said. “The media makes a big deal out of a lot of stuff. Just hang on — there will be another big deal tomorrow. I focus on what President Trump and done and accomplished, and you ignore the white noise and the fights he picks with folks that are just maybe unnecessary. 

“That’s just his style. I think he likes to have those daily controversies and he’s got 50 million Twitter followers. He can gin it up pretty much on his own.”

Speaking on tariffs Trump imposed on China, Conaway said, “there’s never a convenient, easy time to pick a fight with a bully or to stand up to a bully. China is a bully. They cheat on all of their agreements. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t demand that trade partners abide by all the agreements and then let them get away with cheating.

“He’s calling them to task on the issue and it’s working. The tariff fight he had with Europe — it looks like they are now going the make a deal. The re-negotiation of NAFTA — it looks like he’s getting that done as well.”

Conaway said he’s been in a couple of small-group meetings with Trump, including one last week. On a one-on-one basis, Conaway said, Trump “is very nice, very cordial. He’s focused. If he’s talking to you and having that conversation, he’s focused on you. He asks opinions … very pleasant, very cordial and a very nice guy.”

Conaway also had observations about claims among some pundits that Trump’s presidency is nearly over.

“I think that’s more of just wishful thinking,” Conaway said. “So let me make sure I understand — unemployment at near 4 percent, GDP growth at 4.1 percent and neither of these looking like an aberration, military that’s been reset, a tax code that’s been made better, international standing of the United States is much better than it has been. Where is it that Trump has failed that this is the beginning of the end?"