Jobs, healthcare and immigration reform may be the top issues in the race for the 33rd Congressional District.
But the two Democrats in the race have pinpointed other issues — whether one candidate is a true Democrat and whether the other is an effective leader — that may garner more attention.
“I believe the people of my congressional district lack an effective representative in Congress,” said Tom Sanchez of Irving, who is making his first bid for public office. “I am the better candidate because I will stand on principle and never forget the people that elected me to Congress. Career politicians tell you what you want to hear at home and then vote another way in Washington.”
Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, who is in his first term representing the district, said he has more work to do in Congress and is ready to go back to work for the district.
“I have a long record of service that voters can judge. I have been open and honest about my views and my voting record supports my positions,” said Veasey, 43, who has said his challenger is a Republican in disguise. “The constituents of Congressional District 33 can be confident that when voting for me, they will be voting someone who will fight for them and their families.”
The two face off in the March 4 primary, each vying for a two-year term that pays $174,000 a year.
Early voting in the election runs through Feb. 28.
The district — which stretch from the Stockyards in Fort Worth to Oak Cliff in Dallas — was drawn in 2012 by a federal court in San Antonio that issued new Texas congressional and state House maps after months of legal wrangling in federal courtrooms.
Veasey, who had stockpiled more than $500,000 for his re-election bid by the end of 2013, is a former state representative seeking a second term in Congress.
In 2012, he won the seat after besting former state Rep. Domingo Garcia of Dallas with 52.7 percent of the vote.
“I am running for re-election to Congress so that I may continue to advocate on behalf of the residents of CD 33,” he said. “During my first year in Congress, I have fought hard on behalf of the people I represent. I have advocated for comprehensive immigration reform, for universal healthcare, and for maintaining SNAP funding.
“I am running for Congress to continue the fight in Washington to support these and other programs that help to create jobs and economic development and to promote policies that ensure strong public education and access to quality healthcare. I will to continue to fight against budget cuts to Medicare and other senior benefits.”
He has said he doesn’t know a lot about his opponent, other than that he has supported various Republicans through the years. “I believe he’s just a Republican running in this race as a Democrat,” Veasey said last month.
Veasey voted in the Republican primary election in 1996, but that, he has said, was to cast a protest vote against Texan Phil Gramm.
His top priorities, if re-elected, include working with President Barack Obama “to implement the Affordable Care Act so that all CD33 residents have access to affordable quality healthcare,” as well as seeking immigration reform and creating “good-paying jobs” in the district.
Sanchez, 61, an attorney specializing in smartphone patent technology, said he’s in the race because he doesn’t believe that Veasey has done enough for the community. “We have a mediocre congressman,” he has said.
He has given $200,000 of his own money to his campaign, the only donations reported, and had nearly $180,000 of that on hand at the end of last year, according to Federal Election Commission reports.
As for the Republican charges, federal campaign finance records show that Sanchez sent $500 to Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential campaign in 2011 and more than $1,000 to former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s in 2012.
Tarrant County records show that he voted in the Republican primaries in 2010 and 2012.
He has said that some candidates earn his support on issues, such as how they would handle immigration, and that his “political contributions have been to people and principles, not the parties.”
Overall, he maintains that he should be the top choice for voters.
“I am the better candidate because I will stand on principle and never forget the people that elected me to Congress,” he said.
“I will not vote to deregulate the financial industry, further expanding the unfair divide between rich and poor; I will not vote for budget deals that leave the people of the 33rd District behind by excluding an extension of unemployment benefits and wasting $2.9 billion on an Ohio River project; unlike my opponent I will lead, rather than follow others on immigration reform,” he said.
“Unlike my opponent, I will lead to ensure that Tarrant County’s workforce is not short-changed with access to Affordable Care Act providers at half the rate of Travis County’s residents — which by the way are half the population of our home county here in Tarrant.”