As congressional approval ratings sink nearly as low as they can go, every Tarrant County congressional member has drawn at least one challenger in next year’s election.These challenges come on the heels of a year where taxpayers saw Congress mired in massive budget fights, partisan squabbles, sequestration and a government shutdown. “The truth is that people have been very upset at the excessive polarization of American politics, and it seems that Congress is a very dysfunctional family,” said Jim Riddlesperger, a political science professor at TCU. “Their approval numbers keep going down.“People are upset that even common problems become partisan problems.”This month, Congress members were given a mere 12 percent approval rating, which is actually up from the 9 percent logged last month, Gallup poll results show.Whatever the reason, no congressional candidate with ties to Tarrant County gets a free ride to re-election next year.Some local candidates drew primary challenges; others will face their opposition in the November general election.But the biggest congressional battle in Texas next year is expected to be the one for the 23rd Congressional District. In that race, freshman U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, faces the winner of the GOP primary that pits Francisco “Quico” Canseco, the incumbent Gallego bested in 2012, Will Hurd and Robert Lowry.“That will be a marquee House race,”said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball newsletter.Here’s a look at Republicans and Democrats in local congressional races on next year’s ballot.U.S. representative, District 6Republican Joe Barton (i), Frank Kuchar; Democrat David Edwin Cozad.Barton, an Ennis man who has served in Congress since 1985, faces two former challengers in this year’s election. Kuchar, an Arlington accountant, ran against the incumbent in 2010, claiming just 11 percent of the vote. Cozad, a former Marine Corps officer and a former software systems technologist, also challenged Barton in 2012. he earned 31.2 percent of the vote in the general election.District 6 includes most of Arlington and Mansfield and all of Ellis and Navarro counties. U.S. representative, District 12Republican Kay Granger (i); Democrat Mark GreeneGranger, a former teacher and insurance agent, is a former Fort Worth mayor. She has served in the House since 1997 and faces one former challenger next year.Greene, an independent consultant in the energy, construction and development sectors, challenged Granger for this post in 2000, drawing 35.97 percent of the vote. He later served one term on the Benbrook City Council.District 12 includes downtown Fort Worth, all of Parker County and more than 23,000 people in Wise County. U.S. representative, District 24Republican Kenny Marchant (i); Democrat Patrick McGeheartyMarchant, a Coppell real estate developer and investor, served as a Carrollton councilman and mayor and a state representative before being elected to the U.S. House in 2004.McGehearty, of Lewisville, is a computer scientist who wants voters to have a choice “that represents a middle way which is both progressive and responsible, instead of the extreme positions of the current Tea-publicans which result in favorable tax treatment for the 1% and nothing much for anyone else.”District 24 stretches from far east Fort Worth to Southlake and The Colony and includes parts of Tarrant, Dallas and Denton counties. U.S. representative, District 25Republican Roger Williams (i); Democrats Stuart Gourd, Marco MontoyaWilliams, a freshman who has homes in Weatherford and Austin, is a former Texas Secretary of State and well-known Tarrant County auto dealer. He faces no challenges in the Republican primary, but will go head-to-head with the winner of the Democratic primary.Gourd of Austin said he’s not a politician but is running to help the people’s voice be heard. He noted on Facebook that he was turned away from the U.S. Capitol the one time he tried to enter. “They would not let me in because I had some fruit and snack bars in my backpack, and they did not allow outside food in the building. I declined because my lunch was more important to me than Congress.”Montoya of Austin, who is retired from the Army, said he’s running to create a better quality of life for residents. “I want to be your Congressman in Congress, not your businessman in Congress,” he said during a recent campaign appearance. District 25 was redrawn during the most recent redistricting process, flipping it from Democratic-leaning to Republican-leaning. The revamped district draws its biggest population base from the Austin area. But it includes thousands of residents in Johnson and Tarrant counties. U.S. representative, District 26Republicans Michael Burgess (i), Joel A. Krause, Divenchy WatrousBurgess, a Lewisville obstetrician for nearly 30 years, was first elected in 2002 after defeating Scott Armey, son of House Majority Leader and then-U.S. Rep. Dick Armey of Denton County.Krause, a small business owner, said he’s running for office because he’s concerned about the economy and the deficit and that “we are no longer being governed by or for the people.”Watrous, who describes himself as a “statesman” and “an Oath Keeper,” says he’s no politician. But if elected, he said he will “vote to shut down the govt every time there isn't a surplus budget while not increasing taxes. ... There is no excuse for voting for a budget that is creating a deficit. That type of voting is criminal and highly dangerous.”The district covers all of Denton County, part of Wise County and a patch of northern Tarrant County, including Westlake, north Keller and far north Fort Worth. U.S. representative, District 33Democrats Marc Veasey (i), Thomas Carl SanchezVeasey, a Fort Worth man in his first term, is a former state representative. There was much speculation about whether he would face another challenge by former state Rep. Domingo Garcia, setting up a rematch of last year’s hotly contested primary race. Garcia decided not to enter the race.But Sanchez did. The political newcomer and Colleyville attorney said he would have entered this race even if Garcia had filed. And he said his main issues are immigration reform, military spending and job creation. He said he is “frustrated with the tone of the immigration debate and the anti-immigrant and anti-Hispanic rhetoric of many Republican members of Congress.”This newly created district stretches from Fort Worth’s Stockyards to Dallas’ Oak Cliff neighborhood.
Anna Tinsley, 817-390-7610 Twitter: @annatinsley