Is a Veasey-Garcia rematch on the horizon for the 33rd Congressional District?

Posted Sunday, Jul. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Last year’s fierce, costly battle for the newly created congressional district in North Texas may have been a mere preview.

A no-holds-barred rematch for the 33rd Congressional District could soon erupt if Dallas attorney Domingo Garcia decides to again seek the post, now held by U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth.

“It’s too early to tell if [the rematch] will happen,” said Cal Jillson, a political science professor with Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “It’s certainly possible.”

Especially since some say the battle for the 33rd never really ended after Veasey claimed victory last year. Garcia just upped his presence in Tarrant County, working to meet and register more minority voters, even bringing his Chorizo and Menudo Community Breakfast to Fort Worth.

“Clearly he thought the wrong man won last time and he thinks the district favors him over Veasey,” said Jim Riddlesperger, a political science professor at TCU. “He’s been cultivating Hispanic voters in Tarrant County … hoping the legwork he’s doing this year will put him in a good position to challenge Veasey.

“If he runs, it would be a huge battle again.”

Veasey and Garcia squared off last year in one of the hottest and most controversial local races for Congress, each vying to represent the newly created 33rd congressional district — which stretches from Fort Worth’s Stockyards to Dallas’ Oak Cliff — created to give minority voters a chance to elect a candidate.

More than half a year into his two-year term, Veasey has already begun re-election efforts, holding fundraisers and reaching out to voters.

Between April and June, he raised nearly $200,000 and has nearly $290,000 in cash on hand, according to updated reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Garcia, who couldn’t be reached for comment and has said he won’t make a decision until after Labor Day, raised no money during the same time period. He has about $1,700 in the bank and lists $2.1 million in debts and obligations, federal reports show.

“The average successful incumbent spends about $1.5 million [for a U.S. House race], depending on how competitive the district is,” Jillson said. “A challenger would need north of $700,000 just to have enough money to make their case.”

Overall, local congressional leaders raised nearly $4 million during the second quarter of this year. Together they have more than $8.5 million in the bank, but the bulk of that belongs to Texas’ senior senator, John Cornyn.

Here’s a look at the race for the 33rd — as well as how other local congressional leaders stand financially — according to new FEC campaign finance reports that detail money raised in the second quarter of this year.

U.S. House

District 33: Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth

The battle for this district — one of four Texas gained because of population growth — last year became one of the most watched and most expensive local races.

Eleven Democrats initially jumped into the race, which was narrowed to Veasey and Garcia after the primary election.

Garcia called Veasey a “paid-for errand boy” of the establishment and said Fort Worth’s Stop Six and Poly neighborhoods “look like ghettos.” Veasey called Garcia a “bad Democrat” and one of the most distrusted members of their party.

They fought for votes in the district, which is divided between Dallas and Tarrant counties and includes more than 450,000 Hispanic residents, 120,000 black residents and around 100,000 white residents.

In the primary runoff, Veasey earned 52.72 percent of the vote, besting Garcia by 1,113 votes, and went on to win the general election.

He is raising money for a re-election bid next year.

Recent donations include $2,500 from Charles C. Butt, CEO of the HEB grocery chain, $250 from Tarrant County College Chancellor Erma Johnson Hadley and $999.99 from the Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats PAC.

Garcia, a former state representative, earlier this year unsuccessfully sought the presidency of the League of United Latin American Citizens, the oldest Hispanic civil rights group in the country. He has told the Star-Telegram that he’s keeping his “options open” for 2014.

His report notes that he largely funded his congressional campaign, giving himself 16 loans between March and November 2012, each ranging from $20,000 to $300,000.

“Domingo Garcia spent a good deal of his own money in the last race and will obviously need to do so again unless he picks up the pace in fundraising,” Jillson said.

District 6: Joe Barton, R-Ennis

He raised nearly $170,000 and has nearly $935,000 on hand. Donations include $2,600 from billionaire T. Boone Pickens, $1,000 from the Dr Pepper Snapple PAC and $1,000 from the American Gambling Association PAC.

District 12: Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth

She raised more than $214,000, has nearly $350,000 on hand and lists $7,287 in debts and obligations. Donations include $2,500 from Fort Worth’s Mercedes Bass, $400 from the Betsy Price Campaign Fund and $400 from the Charlie Geren Campaign Account.

Fort Worth Democrat Mark Greene recently announced he will run for this post next year.

District 24: Kenny Marchant, R-Coppell

He raised nearly $125,000 and has more than $650,000 on hand. Donations include $5,000 from the BNSF RAILPAC, $3,000 from the Chesapeake Energy Fed PAC and $1,000 from the Halliburton Company PAC.

District 25: Roger Williams, R-Austin

He raised nearly $190,000 and has more than $365,000 on hand. Donations include $1,000 from Fort Worth’s Hub Baker, $1,000 from the American Airlines PAC, and $2,500 from the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association in Fort Worth. He lists $330,000 in debts and obligations.

District 26: Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville

He raised more than $180,000 and has more than $110,000 in cash on hand. Donations include $1,000 from Michael Berry, president of Hillwood Real Estate in Fort Worth; $500 from former state Rep. Vicki Truitt, R-Keller; and $1,000 from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. PAC in Fort Worth.

U.S. Senate

Ted Cruz, R-Houston

Texas’ junior senator, elected last year after unexpectedly besting Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a GOP runoff, raised more than $410,000 and has more than $42,000 on hand.

Donations include $1,000 from car dealer Red McCombs of San Antonio; $2,600 from the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas; and $2,600 from the Vermeer Equipment of Texas Inc. PAC.

John Cornyn, R-Dallas

Texas’ senior senator, first elected in 2002, raised $2.3 million and has nearly $6 million in cash on hand.

Donations include $2,600 each from members of the Fort Worth Bass family, including Perry R. Bass II, $1,000 from the Kay Granger Campaign Fund and $5,000 from the Facebook Inc. PAC.

His campaign coffers need to be much deeper than Cruz’s because he is up for re-election next year. Not only that, but as a leader in the Senate — as GOP Whip — he will represent his party to the nation.

Political observers note Cornyn that will have to focus on balance next year.

“As one of the top leaders in the Senate, he has to orient himself toward national issues while not losing contact with their states,” Jillson said. “One of the things Senate leaders have to worry about is there are examples of Senate leaders getting knocked off because they become so entrenched in national issues.”

He said it appears Cornyn is working hard to stay in touch with Texas voters. But he also “needs to avoid the Dewhurst problem of letting a Tea Party candidate get to his right,” as Cruz did, in his own successful bid for Congress.

Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610 Twitter: @annatinsley

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