Politics & Government

Race heats up in 33rd Congressional District

The previously quiet Democratic primary race in the 33rd Congressional District flared up Friday as the candidates tossed around labels such as “mediocre” and “Republican” to describe their opponents.

Freshman Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth is seeking a second term. His challenger, political newcomer Tom Sanchez, says he’s the person voters should send to Washington, D.C.

As the two squared off Friday in back-to-back interviews that will air at 9:05 a.m. Sunday on WFAA/Channel 8’s Inside Texas Politics, the gloves came off.

Veasey said his challenger is a Republican in disguise. Sanchez said Veasey is a “mediocre” politician who hasn’t done enough for his community.

“I don’t know much about my opponent,” Veasey said. “The only thing I really know about him is he [has donated] a lot of money to Republicans. … I believe he’s just a Republican running in this race as a Democrat.”

Veasey said he has done a lot in the district, including setting up offices and teams of caseworkers and staffers to work on issues and help constituents.

Sanchez said he has supported candidates in both parties — but not Veasey.

“He hasn’t done anything for the community,” he said. “I don’t think he represents us well. … We have a mediocre congressman.”

Minority district

The district’s boundaries were 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.

The goal in this district, which stretches from the Stockyards in Fort Worth to Oak Cliff in Dallas, was to give minority voters a chance to elect a candidate of their choice.

Veasey, a former state representative, won the Democratic runoff for this district, besting former state Rep. Domingo Garcia of Dallas. He won with 52.7 percent — about 1,100 votes more than Garcia.

Sanchez said he believes he can beat Veasey.

“Two percent of the population voted for him,” Sanchez said, adding that he should be able to win if he can pick up 3 percent of the vote.

Veasey said he feels that he can draw more of the vote this year. “I’m certain I will have more support than I did last time,” he said.

Follow the money

Sanchez, an attorney specializing in smartphone patent technology who lives in Irving, believes that Veasey hasn’t done enough for the district: “He has shown a great tendency towards mediocrity toward his district.”

Veasey said he doesn’t know much about his challenger — other than that he has a history of sending campaign donations to Republican candidates, particularly Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich when both were running for president.

Federal campaign finance records show that Sanchez sent $500 to Perry’s presidential campaign in 2011 and more than $1,000 to Gingrich’s in 2012.

After the WFAA taping, Sanchez responded to questions about his donations.

“Like most Texans, I have given to candidates of both parties,” he said in a statement. “Some candidates have earned my support on the immigration issue. My political contributions have been to people and principles, not the parties.

“That is why I never contributed to Mr. Veasey. In Washington, he abandons the people of the 33rd District and votes with Republicans,” he said. “My favorite politician to whom I have made financial contributions is Marine Captain Jim Webb in his run for U.S. Senate.”

No Republican filed to run in District 33.