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What Voters Want: District 33 Runoff

The brand new Congressional District 33 runoff race is one of the hottest in North Texas. Early voter turnout is already higher than predicted. Fort Worth’s Marc Veasey and Domingo Garcia, from Dallas, have honed their messages to win as many Democratic votes as possible. 

In Congressional District 33, more than three quarters of those who can vote are Black or Hispanic. West to east, the district takes in Fort Worth’s Stockyards, Grand Prairie’s Lone Star Park, and the Bishop Arts District in Dallas’ Oak Cliff.

Domingo Garcia, from Dallas, used to sit on the Dallas City Council and in Austin’s House of Representatives. Marc Veasey represents State House District 95 in Fort Worth. On both sides of the 33rd district, voters say one issue rises to the top.

Kemp: Jobs, jobs, jobs is what we need.

John Kemp lives in Oak Cliff. He is African American and voted for Garcia even though Marc Veasey is also Black.

Kemp: The seat was kind of created to aid Hispanic Representation, so we have to vote across racial lines to come up with the best candidate possible.

Leon Flowers: The jobs and the economy.

Leon Flowers, who is Black, lives in Dallas. He just cast his ballot at the busy early voting location across the street from Domingo Garcia’s law office. Flowers is frustrated. Average unemployment runs higher in minority communities.

Flowers: We need the work here in the U.S. They’re trying to send everything off and people down here are not getting any, not making any money. Everybody’s trying to get a hand-out from the government. That’s not right.

Felipe, who only gave his first name backs Garcia, whom he’s known a long time.

Felipe: Jobs, you know, that part really concerns me. I’m at that age that I’m about ready to retire. But I look at my children, they’re still working. But still a lot of people are out of work.

Thirty-five miles away, in Tarrant County, where Marc Veasey is the State Representative voters like Gwenda Burns say Veasey the best candidate.

At this southeast Fort Worth early voting location, voter concerns include more than jobs and the economy.

Burns: This is a new beginning for us. We definitely need to make sure that what others have fought for here in Fort Worth is carried out in Washington D.C. for us. The issues being health care, good schools, pay raises for teachers, tax incentives for our community.

The top concern for Denise Williams is student aid.

Williams: Something for those that’s been locked up. Give them a chance to get out and get them a good decent job, help them get a good decent job.

Both candidates are working to win voters like Williams, who has not voted yet. And both say they must get their first-time voters back to the polls in this sweltering summer heat. Brenda Howard says she’ll be there for Veasey.

Howard: Because hey, we’re living here and that’s something we need people to fight for, like Mr. Veasey will fight for us to have better housing and economic development in that neighborhood.

County elections officials say early turnout in typical runoffs rarely rises above low single digits. But so far, both counties are reporting early turnout numbers are least double the figures compared to past runoffs. And they say it’s possible turnout in some District 33 polling places could end up in double digits.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.