Two Democrats are waging a bitter fight to win a July 31 primary runoff in a newly created congressional district in North Texas.
The winner in the new 33rd congressional district, which spans parts of Dallas and Tarrant counties, is expected to prevail in the November contest against a weak Republican opponent.
|‘ÒGarcia has criticized Veasey as 'acting like a Republican' in an Internet ad for his website. Garcia described Veasey as 'Clarence Thomas-lite,' a reference to the conservative U.S. Supreme Court justice.Ó’|
The race pits Domingo Garcia of Dallas County, a lawyer and former state representative from 1996 to 2002, against Marc Veasey, of Fort Worth, who has represented Texas House District 95 since 2005.
Garcia, who is in the real estate industry, received 25 percent of the vote in the May primary in a field of 11 candidates, while Veasey was the top vote-getter with 36.8 percent.
Garcia's campaign has seen him launch some questionable attacks, most recently during a June debate in which he said Fort Worth's Stop Six and Poly neighborhoods "look like ghettos." Garcia blamed elected officials who represented those neighbors over time.
As in the primary vote, Veasey still holds a heavy advantage, according to Southern Methodist University political science professor Cal Jillson.
Jillson said one of the key issues in this race is: "Who's the better Democrat? Who's the more loyal Democrat?" Veasey is winning that battle, Jillson said, based on endorsements from establishment Democrats in the district and elsewhere.
These include U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, former Democratic U.S. Rep. Martin Frost, who represented the area for many years, and the Congressional Black Caucus PAC.
He also got a boost from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which in its endorsement of Veasey, derided Garcia as having a case of "foot-in-mouth" disease.
Garcia had rebuked GM's SUVs, called American Airlines' management "reprehensible" and said he would not defend Lockheed's F-35 project. The companies collectively employ more than 40,000 people in the Dallas-Forth Worth region that is known here as "the Metroplex."
"That's easily the biggest issue," Veasey said. "You're talking about virtually everyone who's working in the Metroplex."
When Veasey defended the companies, Garcia in a campaign letter called him an "errand boy" of the establishment, a comment quickly condemned by local leaders.
Garcia said his comments were not directed at company employees.
"I took on the management of those companies for reducing worker pay and pensions for employees. I don't need them," Garcia said.
Both candidates say that if elected he would go to Washington to help President Obama pass his agenda. Garcia emphasizes the importance of Obama's American Jobs Act, while Veasey focuses on his own job-creating accomplishments in the district.
Veasey stresses that loyal Democrats and congressional Democrats support him.
Being the recognized Democrat, "that's been me, that's been my deal," Veasey said. He said he will put families first and do everything he can to protect people's jobs.
Garcia has criticized Veasey as "acting like a Republican" in an Internet ad for his website. Garcia described Veasey as "Clarence Thomas-lite," a reference to the conservative U.S. Supreme Court justice.
"We can document every single item on there," said Garcia, who was a member of the Democratic National Committee's Latino Caucus for several years and served as a Texas delegate to the Democratic National Convention from 1984 to 2006.
Veasey has said the ad "does not contain a single credible claim."
The ad says he voted "to fund Republican programs" by backing HB 2683 in 2007, a bill that authorized the state to pursue programs aimed at building "healthy marriages and strengthening families."
The money was to come from existing federal funds via the Temporary Aid for Needy Families program. (Veasey's vote is recorded on page 1844.)
The ad also charges that he "sided with Republicans" in 2007 in a vote for HB 1504 "to bring nuclear waste to Texas." This charge is more of a head scratcher.
The bill cited related to promotion of the Adopt a Beach program of the General Land Office and the text has no mention of nuclear waste. It was never voted out of committee.
Jillson said that despite a track record of pursuing social justice causes, Garcia is more suspect among the Democrat establishment as someone "looking out for personal interests."
"The establishment doesn't want a candidate who's independent," Garcia said.
Garcia said he speaks from the heart, and he will not be tied to special interests.
The district takes in more than 80 percent of Veasey's state House District 95 in Tarrant County. Of the $1.4 million Garcia has collected, more than $1.2 million of it is via self-financing, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Veasey has raised nearly $716,000 from donors.
Early voting began Monday and runs through Friday.
Curt Olson covers congressional campaigns for the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.