Lt. Col. August Pfluger II has flown combat missions against ISIS, worked in the White House as a security advisor to President Trump and now wants to represent Mineral Wells and Palo Pinto County in Congress.
The seventh-generation Texan and San Angelo resident is running as a Republican seeking Texas' 11th Congressional District seat, hoping to replace the retiring Mike Conaway. He filed his Federal Election Commission statement of candidacy form in September, and within three weeks raised over $700,000, almost all of it from within the district according to reports.
It could be a crowded primary election next March. About a dozen people have announced their intentions to run for the seat.
The 41-year-old Pfluger (Pflugerville, Texas, derives its name from the Pfluger family) didn't go the route of city council or school board for his first go at elected office – he went straight for Capital Hill. But it is a place he said he is familiar with.
"My last few assignments were at the Pentagon, and then most recently at the White House," he said.
Pfluger was in Mineral Wells and Palo Pinto County on Monday with the second of his three daughters, meeting people and officials.
Lt. Col. August Pfluger, of San Angelo, has filed to run for the Texas-District 11 Congressional seat currently occupied by Rep. Mike Conaway.…
"Protecting and defending the values we hold dear in this part of the country and this part of Texas, District 11, are extremely important," Pfluger said during a stop at the Index office. "I have been extremely fortunate to fight, and deploy, and see all of the things around the world and how important it is to be sure we fight for our freedom. It may sound trite, but very single day we have men and women in uniform doing that and the chance to now be an Air Force reservist, and to fight for this country as a Congressman and defend the values we have here – protect and defend agriculture, protect and defend oil and gas, which we have the largest supply of oil and gas ... and we also have a military base in this district that trains 100 percent of the intelligence personnel going into the Air Force – those three things are extremely important."
He said his family has been in this district 170 years as farmers and ranchers. He said a brother is in the oil and gas industry in Midland.
Pfluger is a 1996 graduate of San Angelo Central High School and attended the United States Air Force Academy. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the Air Force Academy as well two masters degrees in Aeronautical Sciences and Military Operational Art and Strategy. In December, he will complete his third master’s degree, this one in International Business and Policy from Georgetown University.
As a 2nd Lieutenant, Pfluger attended pilot training at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas, graduating in the top 5% of his class. He has served as a fighter pilot, commander, and servant leader in the U.S. Air Force for almost 20 years. He was chosen as one of the first F‐22 Raptor pilots and is a combat-decorated veteran with over 300 hours of direct action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). He has commanded hundreds of combat airmen, studied at the military’s most prestigious institutions, and most recently served in the Trump White House as a member of the National Security Council staff advising the President of the United States on foreign and domestic national security policies.
Pfluger recently joined his family ranching business with operations in Kimble and Concho counties and started an energy investment company devoted to increasing pipeline infrastructure and capacity in the Permian Basin.
He is married to Camille Cole Pfluger. They have three daughters and recently relocated to West Texas.
Camille was born and raised in Hillsboro, where her family still resides. She is a 2001 graduate of Texas A&M University. She is a licensed guidance counselor and teacher and has spent her career helping military families around the world. Her family first arrived in the country in 1829, settling at first in South Texas.
Pfluger told the Index running for Congress was not something he had planned on doing. But with Conaway's announced retirement, the family decided the timing was right.
"We didn't know we were going to be doing this," he said. "We are taking a step in faith that is very important to this path. We felt it is something that kind of found us. My wife and I, through a lot of prayer, felt this was the best way we could serve our nation."
He said Conaway's recent announcement came as a surprise.
"We had no idea that was going to happen," Pfluger said. "I think a lot of military officers think about doing public service in a different way after they get out of the military. This is not something we thought about at this time, for sure. But then the opportunity presented itself for us to raise our hands, put our hat in the ring and serve in a different capacity."
Has said he spoken with Conaway "many, many times."
"Every conversation I have with him is fantastic," Pfluger said. "I think he tells every candidate he will help them. I take him up on it. I call him and ask him for advice. He has been there and done it, especially lately we have seen him in the news. He is standing up for this district, which is exactly what I want to do. I want to fight for this district every single day."
Pfluger said he is "a conservative Christian, a Republican, who believes in protecting life, I am pro life. I believe in protecting the Second Amendment ... I do stand for those things."
He said he has knowledge and experience in military, national security, oil and gas and agriculture, which he said makes him the right representative for the 29-county conservative West Texas district.
Pfluger said he believes people are tired of the rancor and political division in Washington and the attacks on President Trump, while Congress fails to undertake work and legislation to move the country forward.
"For instance, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement," he said. "This has been something that should have been passed months ago. It's not a Democrat or Republican thing, it's a country thing. It is something that will benefit our entire country."
Both Mexico and Canada have approved the agreement, but the U.S. has not.
"It's just an example of something our district really needs," Pfluger said. "We are part of the productivity of that agreement. So when I see the theater, the hatred that is happening, I don't think there is any place for that in our country."
He is for border security, including but not limited to, building a wall.
"It is not just about a physical barrier, which I think is very important and is an important need for any country to have physical security, but we also need technology and more boots on the ground to make sure our agencies, whether it's the Department of Homeland Defense, or Border Patrol, or any of these agencies that are guarding and protecting, to make sure they are staffed at a level meaningful," said Pfluger.
As for foreign policy and the president's recent decisions to pull troops from Syria in an effort to pull America out of seemingly unending conflicts in the Middle East, Pfluger said President Trump is simply following through on campaign promises.
"I think the president told us what he was going to do when he ran," Pfluger said. "He meant what he said on that. This is a very complicated situation in Syria. You have multiple state and non-state actors vying for the same control of the geography in Northern Syria. Having fought against ISIS, I have 300 combat hours against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, I think the president has taken a very complicated situation and he has tried to ensure that the Kurds who fought against ISIS are protected to the largest degree they can be protected without keeping troops there forever in an endless war, and stopping Turkey from moving its border south and making sure Russia and Syria don't overreach their step there so that it can be a stable area.
"Not only has he used military instruments of power, but he has diplomatic and economic instruments of power to stabilize that area. One of the most aspects of what this president has done to ask other countries to step up and to play their role and to share the burden to make sure that not only commerce but regional stability can continue to increase. We need our partners and allies to step up."
Pfluger said he "absolutely" supports President Trump.
"I have been in multiple meetings with him," Pfluger said. "I think he cares for this country. His heart is in the right place and he cares for this country deeply. He is standing up for this country and I respect the fact that he is standing up for this country. I may say things differently. But when you look at his heart he really cares for the safety and security of this country."