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Texas 33: A Tale of Two Cities and Two Minorities

By Hastings Wyman
Southern Political Report

May 22, 2012

The 33rd congressional district of Texas is one of four the state gained after the 2010 Census. It spans two urban areas, Dallas and Fort Worth, and is dominated by two important ethnic minorities, Latinos, who account for 39 percent of the district’s voting age population, and African Americans, who account for 25 percent.

The two leading candidates are the out-spoken former state representative and former Dallas city councilman Domingo Garcia, 56, who is Hispanic, and state Rep. Marc Veasey, 41, who is black. Veasey is from Fort Worth’s Tarrant County. Garcia has been an ardent and caustic crusader for liberal causes, but critics contend he is too divisive. Veasey chairs the Democratic Caucus in the state House of Representatives, where he has led the fight against the conservative agenda of the GOP majority; he has been endorsed by the Dallas Morning News. Garcia raised $320,000, with $195,000 on hand. He is using a lot of his own money. Veasey raised $177,000, with $117,000 on hand and no debt.

The big debate of the race so far focuses on Garcia’s attacks on the three major corporations in the area, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Garcia said that he had “no confidence” in General Motors, that American Airlines’ management is “reprehensible,” and that he wouldn’t defend a fighter plane – the F-35 – to be built at Lockheed Martin. Veasey, backed up by his former employer, US Rep. Martin Frost (D-TX), says that “We have to work to defend all of these companies because they put food on al our tables.” Garcia contends Veasey is attacking him “for standing up against the corporate bosses” and countered that Veasey is “the establishment’s errand boy” and is “bought and paid for by the Washington special interests.” The three companies employee some 40,000 people in the area.

A third contender who could be a major player is wealthy Dallas dentist/businessman David Alameel. He is a prominent civic leader and a major donor to Democratic campaigns. While he has no natural constituency, Alameel has an overwhelming lead in fundraising, with $2,248,000 received – mostly his own money – and $1,631,000 on hand as of March 31. That can buy him a lot of television.

There is no apparent frontrunner. Harvey Kronberg, who tracks Texas political races for his Quorum Report, says “It’s Garcia vs. Veasey, Hispanic vs. African-American, two different bases.” A long-time political observer in the area echoes that assessment. “It’s going to come down to whether the turnout is black or Hispanic.” Latinos make up a larger share of the district, but black voters traditionally have a higher turnout rate. As for Alameel, who is Lebanese and Catholic, “He has no ethnic base and no name ID. I’m hearing nothing about him,” says the observer. If he does well, his campaign budget will deserve major credit.

There are eight other Democrats in the race, none considered competitive with the top three. They are:

Chrysta Castaneda, Dallas lawyer;

Kathleen Hicks, Fort Worth City Council member;

J. R. Molina, former Tarrant County assistant district attorney;

Carlos Quintanilla, Dallas civic leader;

Jason Roberts, Dallas community activist;

Steve Salazar, former Dallas City Councilman;

Kyev Tatum Sr., Fort Worth pastor and civil rights activist; and

Manuel Valdez, Tarrant County Justice of the Peace.

If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, there will be a runoff between the top two on July 31. Thus, the votes received by the bottom nine candidates could help force a runoff – likely between Garcia and Veasey – and give one or more an opportunity to influence the outcome of the nomination battle.

Two Republicans are running: Chuck Bradley, a retired businessman, and Charles King, a car-wash manager. Neither is given a chance in this heavily Democratic district.  

   
   

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