Let's just call it: Everyone in town is running for Congress.
Okay, not everyone, but the race for the newly-created, much-argued-over Congressional District 33 has gotten very, very crowded, especially on the Democrats' side.
Last night we watched as former Dallas city council member -- and mayor pro tem, state rep and redistricting commissioner -- Domingo Garcia, about whom we've written approximately a million times over the years, announced his own candidacy. The shindig, which took place on the top floor of the Oak Cliff Tower, the massive building where his law practice is based, drew a couple hundred people, lots of cameras, and some very big-name supporters: current city council member Delia Jasso, Dallas County treasurer Joe Wells, former DISD board member Ron Price, and district clerk Gary Fitzsimmons.
The Reverend Peter Johnson kicked things off by delivering the opening blessing and and reminiscing about picketing alongside Garcia and Cesar Chavez.
"I'm deeply proud to call Domingo Garcia my friend," he said. He praised Garcia's commitment to the black community, adding, "He's been willing to stand with us shoulder to shoulder. He's a deep and serious friend."
Johnson, and everybody else in the room, is of course well aware that the CD-33 race has at this point broken down largely along racial and demographic lines: in Dallas, former city council member Steve Salazar and community activist Carlos Quintanilla, who are both Latino, will be among the people vying for the seat, while the contenders in Fort Worth include Marc Veasey, Kathleen Hicks, and Rev. Kyev Tatum, who are all black. And over in left field there's Better Block-er Jason Roberts, who announced on Twitter yesterday that he'd be throwing his newsboy cap in the ring after he raised the final $2,000 he'd needed in a little less than 24 hours.
The district is 66 percent Latino, 17 percent black and 14.5 percent white, and it's widely expected to be decided during the Democratic primary on May 29. But there are a few Republican candidates, including Chuck Bradley, a "medical marketing" exec from Fort Worth, and Dr. Monte Mitchell, also from Fort Worth, who has an oddly Photoshopped-looking and somewhat terrifying picture on the homepage of his campaign website. Both men have roughly a snowball's chance in hell of winning: the district voted 69 percent for Obama in 2008. (Correction, 3:36:Or rather, that's how the 33rd would have voted in 2008, had it been grouped together as one district, as this Texas Tribune map shows.)
Garcia pledged last night to repeal No Child Left Behind, defend Medicaid and Medicare and institute immigration reform. "I'm not going to be a congressman just for Latinos," he told the crowd. "I'm going to be a congressman for everybody, because that's my life."
This morning, we also reached Roberts by phone in Brooklyn, where he's demoing some Better Block ideas as part of a mini-cross-country tour. "This is a chance for me to talk to people as much as possible," he told us of his Congressional run.
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Roberts said he's become frustrated with the bickering he's hearing from the House and Senate.
"It's hard to fathom the arguments we're having right now," he said. "Why are we arguing about contraception when I can literally walk outside and there are people firing guns in my neighborhood? There are boarded-up buildings here that should be active and alive. So why are we arguing about my wife's right to birth control? It's completely asinine...The national dialogue has nothing to do with how to fix what's obvious, what's right in front of your eyes. I'm a very hands on person. People ask me, 'How would you change things?' At the very least, I wouldn't just keep talking and talking."
And with that, Roberts, Garcia, and the 10,000 other candidates will commence their mad dash toward May 29.
"Domingo's goal is to win without a run-off,"
campaign manager press secretary Colin Strother told us last night. "But with this many people, it'll be difficult."