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Frontrunners In CD33 Race Bring Different Styles

Congressional District 33 is expected to give North Texas its second Democrat and minority in Congress. 

Eleven Democrats are on the ballot, but two familiar names have emerged as frontrunners.

The newly-created district stretches from the Fort Worth Stockyards to Dallas’ Oak Cliff, and its drawn Democratic candidates like honey draws bees.

At an Oak Cliff center, seniors two-step and twirl while a familiar political figure makes the rounds.

Former Dallas council member and state representative Domingo Garcia arrived with a white van and an offer.

"I'm here to make sure everyone who wants to vote can go vote. We have a van," Garcia said. "We’ll be able to take anyone who wants to vote."

Four miles away, volunteers knocked on doors asking voters to send State Representative Marc Veasey of Fort Worth to Congress.

"Ms. Demming, my name is Adolphus Johnson with the Marc Veasey campaign," a volunteer said. "I was wondering, have you voted?"

"No, Not yet," Demming said.

Veasey, an African-American commercial real estate agent, and Garcia, a Hispanic personal injury attorney, have surged to the front of the pack. They have organized get-out-the-vote efforts, money for advertising and plenty of media coverage.

District 33 Candidate Websites:  Chrysta Castaneda / Domingo Garcia / Carlos Quintanilla / Jason Roberts /J.R. Molina / Rev. Kyev Tatum / Justice of the Peace Manuel Valdez / Marc Veasey / Kathleen Hicks / Dr. David Alameel / Steve Salazar

Both support core Democratic issues including President Obama’s Jobs Act, immigration reform and increased financial assistance for students.

But their political styles couldn’t be more different.

"I've been a good Democratic leader," Veasey said. "I've always done party building and party fundraising."

Forty-one year old Veasey is a by-the-book Democrat who works within the party and helps other Democrats get elected.

"Starting in 2005, my first session in the legislature, my colleagues elected me to be Democratic whip," Veasey said.

Veasey began his political career as a campaign volunteer then went to work for Democratic Congressman Martin Frost. He’s represented Fort Worth’s District 95 for the past seven years.

"I helped write the expunction code in the State of Texas to give people the opportunity to have their names cleared when they have been mistakenly arrested," Veasey said. "I was able to pass a bill dealing with financial literacy last session that will require when people get SNAP and other benefits they are handed some information about financial literacy and the danger of different sorts of credit traps. I have worked on issues dealing with teacher pay raises."


In contrast to Veasey’s even-tempered style, 54-year-old Domingo Garcia can be confrontational. Garcia cut his political teeth in the civil rights movement, marching with African-Americans like Reverend Joseph Lowery who has endorsed him in this election.

"Me and Dr. Lowery marched against a Ku Klux Klan rally in Dallas in 1984. That's how long I've known him," Garcia said.

Beyond his activism, Garcia ’s penchant for picking a fight has earned him a bad boy reputation he’s trying to shed. In 1989 a fellow council member punched Garcia after Garcia insulted him. Garcia later pushed aside loyalty and ran against a close friend to win a seat in the Texas House of Representatives.

Garcia points to his accomplishments.

"When I was a city council person, we were able to pave the streets and provide curbs and gutters for almost every street in West Dallas that had been neglected for some time. That made a difference," garcia said. "As a council member we closed down drug houses and transformed neighborhoods like Jefferson Boulevard and Bishops Arts into thriving communities that didn't exist before. As a State Rep I passed a stalking ordinance that protected women from domestic violence for the first time. I was a co-author of the 10 percent rule that allowed students from many high schools to go to college. I was the author of the Texas Dream Act."

In the final weeks of the election, the contrast between Veasey and Garcia were on display again when Garcia criticized some of the biggest employers in District 33.

During a candidate forum covered by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Garcia said General Motors' production of gas guzzling SUV’s is “not good for America.” He called American Airlines management “reprehensible.”

Across from Arlington’s GM plant, union workers and former Congressman Martin Frost flanked Veasey as he took aim.

"The gas guzzlers he talked about that he referred to that’s putting food on peoples’ tables here," Veasey said. "All of us are concerned about the environment but we’re concerned about peoples’ jobs in North Texas. To have the Romney-like approach that Garcia has towards General Motors is unfortunate."

Garcia explained his comments this way.

"That Wall Street greed is killing America. I'm battling for the workers," Garcia said. "The problem is GM management, when they make these big gas guzzlers that nobody wants to buy, we have to bail out GM. We have to put out billions of our tax payer dollars to help them stay afloat. GM needs to be innovative. They need to get green technologies."

As Garcia challenges the status quo and Veasey vows to protect the district’s employers, nine other Democratic candidates are working more quietly to round up votes. There’s no guarantee Garcia and Veasey will be the two top vote-getters who advance to a runoff race.

But they have trained their sites on each other as they gear up for round two.

"I'm a different kind of Democrat," Garcia said. "Mr. CEO of GM, you need to change your policies."

Veasey: I promise you I’ll protect these jobs and I’ll be with you in Congress.

Other Democrats running in Congressional District 33 include Fort Worth councilwoman Kathleen Hicks and former Dallas Councilmember Steve Salazar. Dr. David Alameel of Dallas, the wealthy owner of a dental clinic chain, has poured money into billboards all over North Texas.

Also on the ballot are Chrysta Castaneda and Jason Roberts of Dallas; Carlos Quintanilla of Irving; the Rev. Kyev Tatum and Justice of the Peace Manuel Valdez of Fort Worth and J.R. Molina from Burleson.

Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.