It wasn't a surprise when CD-33, a newly created minority opportunity district in the Dallas-Fort Worth area drew enough candidates to populate a soccer team. Throughout the first round of the primary, current State Rep. Marc Veasey and former State Rep. Domingo Garcia emerged as the front-runners, an impression that was reaffirmed on election night, when Veasey earned 37% and Garcia 25% of the vote, heading into an inevitable run-off. The first round between these two candidates became an increasingly acrimonious affair after Garcia attacked Veasey for standing with auto-workers in support of the area's car manufacturers, some of the largest private employers in the region.
So far, the run-off -- which will conclude on July 31 -- has largely been dominated by endorsement news, as various other candidates in the race and area elected officials pick sides between Veasey and Garcia.
Veasey has rolled out a number of impressive endorsements, including State Senator Wendy Davis, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, and State Reps. Rafael Anchia and Robert Alonso. Meanwhile, Garcia has earned the endorsements of former State Rep. Glenn Lewis, and candidate in the first round of the primary Kyev Tatum.
One can view many of Veasey's endorsements as an attempt to eat into Garcia's base, both geographically and ethnically. Veasey, who is African-American, earned the endorsements of two prominent Hispanic lawmakers, Alonzo and Anchia. Alonzo, as a matter of fact, was the first Hispanic candidate elected to the State House from North Texas. Anchia, a national rising star in Hispanic politics, has also been one of the staunchest opponents to voter photo ID legislation, which if put into effect would disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Hispanic voters. Veasey has also been endorsed by first-round opponents JR Molina and Steve Salazar. Additionally, Veasey, who is from Tarrant County, is racking up support from folks on the Dallas end of the district, home to Garcia. Johnson, Anchia, Alonzo, and Salazar all hold or held elected office in Dallas. They're joined by Dallas Councilwoman Monica Alonzo, Dallas Constable Beth Villarreal and others in backing Veasey in the run-off over Garcia.
It might seem odd that so many respected Hispanic officials past and present would endorse Veasey over Garcia. However, even Garcia's Hispanic supporters admit that he is a "flawed candidate" with shortcomings that, as the Dallas Morning News puts it, should "disqualify him in the minds of the regular voters."
Meanwhile, Garcia has earned the endorsements of former State Rep. Glenn O. Lewis, Fort Worth Council Member Kathleen Hicks, and Rev. Kyev Tatum, another candidate in the first round. All three African-Americans hail from the Fort Worth end of the district. However, concerns have been raised about the backgrounds of Lewis and Tatum, and their endorsement of Garcia should raise eyebrows amongst folks who know their backgrounds.
As a State Representative, Lewis betrayed Democratic Speaker Pete Laney and endorsed Republican Tom Craddick, later defending Craddick's regime in the lower chamber. He helped pass Tom Delay's mid-decade redistricting plan, remaining in Austin to help Craddick hold quorum rather than flee immediately to Ardmore, OK. One of Lewis's top legislative priorities was supporting school vouchers as a member of the House Committee on School Finance. This is particularly alarming, since vouchers take taxpayer money out of our public schools, and hurt Texans who depend on public schools. Lewis was defeated in the 2004 Democratic primary by Veasey himself. One could argue that it was a huge trade-up for the people of HD-95.
Tatum also has a checkered past -- he has donated to Republican organizations and voted in Republican primaries, and also supports school voucher programs to take money from public schools to fund private education. Oddly, he was endorsed by George W. Bush's former Education Secretary. It's odd to see Garcia promoting the endorsement of people so closely aligned with Republicans and failed Republican policies. With friends like these...
Veasey seems to be winning the lion's share of endorsements from respected leaders and former officials on both ends of the district. Meanwhile, Garcia is touting the support of individuals with extremely problematic pasts that should be disconcerting to Democratic primary (and primary run-off) voters. Remember that the new CD-33 is a very Democratic district, and it's likely that barring any major scandal or mid-decade redistricting, the person elected will serve for some considerable time. Voters need to make sure they elect someone they can trust, and given the folks Garcia is currently associating himself with, it's hard to make the case that he's the man for the job.