FORT WORTH, Texas - The man standing in front of the Fort Worth campaign office of Domingo Garcia, a candidate for the 33rd congressional district, snapping cell phone photos was suspicious. Or was he?
It’s hardly an act of subterfuge, although a male campaign aide hurried out the office door to question the man.
“What’s going on?” he asked amiably. Once he discerned no threat, he demurred.
“I just wanted to make sure you weren’t from another campaign,” he said apologetically.
That’s the tenor of a jammed May 29 Democratic primary in North Texas, where 11 candidates are vying for a spot in Washington. With no incumbent, the newly created district has sparked a somewhat furious competition for the right to compete at the next level, the anticipated July 31 runoff between the top two vote getters. In the Democrat-heavy district, the runoff winner is expected to go to Washington.
The pair expected to make the runoff are two state representatives, one former and one sitting. Garcia, a personal injury lawyer, served in the statehouse from 1996 to 2002, while state Rep. Marc Veasey, a real estate agent, has served since 2004.
The two are playing like rivals, accusing and alleging while vowing to be the man of the people.
Veasey recently headed over to the gates of a General Motors plant in the district and called out Garcia for claiming that GM was making gas-consuming products that were “not good for America.”
Garcia responded with a letter to supporters in which he called Veasey an “errand boy” for special interests.
GM is among Veasey’s donors. Of course, Garcia’s donor list includes people working for operations that others might consider not so good for America, among them MGM-Mirage and the big-lawyer American Association for Justice. The two have pecked away at each other for months, leaving local Democrats with a disheveled appearance.
“The Democrats haven’t even formed a coalition,” said Chuck Bradley, one of two candidates on the Republican side of the 33rd district primary. “They don’t like each other at all. And they’re beating each other to death and trying to save money at the same time.”
Both candidates pointed in separate interviews to the new seat with no incumbent as the reason for the personal attacks.
The opponent bashing “is one of those things that happens,” said Veasey. “This is a new seat with a lot of people vying, and for some candidates, being able to control their temperament is tough."
Garcia agreed, at least on the first point.
“Whenever you have an open seat with 11 candidates and no incumbent, it’s going to be a free-for-all,” he admitted.
Veasey and Garcia are as seasoned as it gets in the new district, which weaves through Tarrant and Dallas counties like a Democratic voter-seeking missile. Some claim that the race puts Hispanic voters, for Garcia, versus black voters, for Veasey.
To that, both immediately launch into their cross-racial support. Garcia notes he attended the Thurgood Marshall School of Law and is backed by Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins, a black man.
Veasey said, “I don’t see the racial issue at all. I have a lot of Hispanic supporters, and my current [state] district is 35 percent Latino.”
The best candidate will be determined by his campaigning abilities, and so far, no one is winning. In fact it’s painfully obvious neither has D.C. experience, as they bicker over old and petty county rivalries.
And then there’s the paucity of dollars spent.
Veasey reported $104,983 on hand in his most recent filing. Among his contributors: Amber Anderson, wife of super Dem contributor Steve Mostyn; former Fort Worth Mayor Kenneth Barr; Aimee Boone, an exec with Planned Parenthood in Dallas; and Charles Butt, CEO of the H-E-B grocery chain.
Veasey’s wife, Tonya, is a former lobbyist with the Eppstein Group and is now president of Open Channels Group, a PR firm that counts among its clients the Trinity River Vision Authority.
And he already has a knack for higher office; in 2007 Veasey spent $4,738 in campaign money to redecorate his office in Austin.
Veasey has been a member of committees on pensions, elections, law enforcement, state affairs and several others in his four sessions at the statehouse.
Among his successful legislation is a measure allowing county commissioners to authorize the destruction of so-called high-emission vehicles rather than selling them and another naming a highway in his district after Martin Luther King Jr.
In the 2009 session, Veasey introduced 53 bills, 28 of them resolutions honoring an individual or group or commemorating an occasion. It was an improvement over 2006, when Veasey authored 47 bills, 46 of them resolutions.
Garcia, a personal injury lawyer, has scored some super PAC dough already, $2,500 from the American Association for Political Justice PAC. He loaned himself $300,000 for the run and reported $241,003 cash on hand in his most recent filing.
He is infamous for his temper, which was ignited recently when the Dallas Morning News announced it was recommending Veasey in the primary.
He fired off an angry email to his supporters accusing Veasey of “promoting Republican priorities.”
Garcia took Republican donations in his statehouse days, including money from billionaire Harold Simmons and the Texas Dental Association PAC, which has been a steady financial backer of Republican Gov. Rick Perry.
In the statehouse, Garcia served on criminal jurisprudence and judicial affairs committees. Among his successful legislation: A bill making it a felony to photograph a non-consenting party for a sexual purpose and a bill increasing the penalty for tampering with standardized tests from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Both candidates concur on a couple of issues that they would deal with in Washington. On earmarks, Veasey said, “It’s every congressman’s responsibility to advocate for local jobs … but there needs to be transparency in earmarks.”
Garcia was equally accepting: “If there are clear guidelines, it’s a good way to get economic development to various parts of America. “
And despite the battle of words, each will vote for the other in November if it comes down to it.
“I have always supported the Democratic nominee,” Garcia said.
"I've always voted straight Democratic ticket, and that’s what I plan to do in the fall,” Veasey said.
Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or email@example.com.
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Photo from the House floor on May 17, 2012, via the Office of the Clerk to the House of Representatives.
Thursday, 05/24/2012 - 07:25AM
A few points...
- I'm really getting sick of the media casting this race as one where Veasey was 100% positive until attacked out of the blue by Domingo and Hicks. That's a lie. Veasey threw the first punch in a mailer a few weeks ago where he attacked both Domingo and Hicks. They, like good politicians who know how to fight do, responded in kind.
- It's interesting that you talk about the $2,500 PAC donation from the American Association for Political Justice yet you fail to mention the $5k each checks Veasey received from Republican oriented PACs.
- The attempt at false equivalency regarding Harold Simmons is way off base. The report you link to was from 2000. That was before GWB, before Swift Boating, and before Harold Simmons decided to setup an illegal one man PAC and use it to give an illegal donation to Veasey.
- You mention Veasey's wife's job as a government PR consultant (i.e. lobbyist by another name and without the registration requirements) as though it's a plus. Why? Generally anytime I've seen a candidate's spouse involved in such consulting, it's so corporate backers of the candidate can funnel money through their spouse.
- Since you repeat the way out of context "errand boy" comment, I'll provide your readers with the actual context from the email:
"Mr. Veasey has voted in Republican primaries, taken illegal contributions from Republican billionaires like Harold Simmons in exchange for allowing them to dump toxic waste in our backyard, and lied about my record. So it really should not be a surprise that he and his backers stand with corporate leadership over frontline workers. He is the establishment's paid for errand boy."
Read the actual email for yourself here:
Tuesday, 07/03/2012 - 10:47PM
I agree. The following are some additional points as well:
The Texas Tribune
• by Paul Theobald
• February 23, 2012
Billionaire's PAC Admits Error, Seeks Refunds
The political action committee of Dallas billionaire waste magnate Harold S i m m o n s admitted today that it messed up when it illegally donated $65,000 to candidates' campaigns in 2011. Based on recommendations of the Texas Ethics Commission, WCS-Texas Solutions PAC is calling all 18 lawmakers who received funds and asking them to give the money back.
The donations went to 15 Republicans and three Democrats: Sens. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, and Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Reps. Kelly Hancock, R-Fort Worth; Cindy Burkett, R-Mesquite; Mike "Tuffy" Hamilton, R-Mauriceville; Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton; Byron Cook, R-Corsicana; Myra Crownover, R-Lake Dallas; Drew Darby, R-San Angelo; Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth; Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi; Sid Miller, R-Stephenville; Wayne Smith, R-Baytown; Dan Branch, R-Dallas; Jessica Farrar, D-Houston; John Frullo, R-Lubbock; Patricia Harless, R-Spring; and
Marc V e a s e y, D-Fort Worth.
HHmmm? True Blue or NOT ????
Texas Billionaire Nears Radioactive Waste Dump Victory
• by Kate Galbraith and Jay Root
• May 17, 2011
Prolific Republican donor and Dallas businessman Harold S i m m o n s, No. 56 on the Forbes list of the richest Americans, could get a little richer if state lawmakers hand him what he wants today: a bill expanding the right of his company to accept low-level radioactive waste from a number of states — and the power to set the rates it charges them.
Give It Back
Posted on May 8, 2008 by Michael Quinn Sullivan
Year after year, the State of Texas has produced budget surpluses – more money than government needs.
“The governor believes that with a surplus of this size, we need to find a way to give tax relief to hardworking Texans,” the governor’s spokesman, Robert Black, told the Fort Worth Star Telegram. “The question is whether it should be in the form of additional property tax reduction, lowering the business tax, cutting the sales tax or actual rebates like the federal government is doing.” (Strictly speaking, the federal government isn’t giving rebates, since the federal government isn’t operating with a surplus.)
Predictably, left-wingers are crying foul. Democratic State Rep. Marc Veasey told the Star Telegram he is “all for giving the taxpayers a break when we can afford to” – but, frankly, he wants to spend lots and lots and lots more.
Veasey and left-wing radicals (of both parties) simply don’t like the idea of parting themselves from your money. Once they have it, they want to spend it on their friends or programs that give them more power.