When the polls close on the Democratic primary for Texas' new 33rd Congressional District, surprisingly few of the nearly dozen candidates will have cast a vote for themselves.
We received a note from a Friend of Unfair Park that Domingo Garcia, one of the two legitimate contenders for the Democratic nomination, does not live in the district, so I poked around a bit.
On campaign reports, he lists the office of his campaign headquarters on Zang Boulevard, which is in the district. But the $1.5 million Oak Cliff home where he lives with his wife, Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia, is a half block shy of the border of the tortuously gerrymandered district. For further proof, I took a peek at his voter registration information, which states pretty clearly that he lives in Texas' 30th Congressional District, longtime fiefdom of Eddie Bernice Johnson.
One can see why Garcia would opt for the open seat rather than go head-to-head with the EBJ juggernaut (though Taj Clayton's giving it a go). Still, you can't just choose a House district and run for Congress, right?
Actually, yes. You can. According to the Secretary of State's office, you have to be at least 25 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least seven years and a Texas resident in order to run for the U.S. House of Representatives. Residency in the actual district, however, is optional.
Silly, ignorant me. I had always just assumed that, this being a representative democracy and all, a Congressional candidate would be required to live amongst the people he or she is hoping to represent.
I called Garcia, who readily admitted that, yep, his home is a half block from the district boundary but that he's lived, worked, and gone to church in the neighborhood for more than 30 years. Besides, he said, the current map is an interim plan handed down by a federal court and his home could very well be included in a final draft. And isn't it just a bit arbitrary that Jason Roberts, OC's favorite hipster and Garcia's neighbor, lives one step within the 33rd lines? And that Garcia's main competitor, Marc Veasey, only purchased a home within the district in March?
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More to the point, Garcia said, he's not the only person running for the district who's a non-resident.
He's right. Chrysta Castenada lives in Kessler Park in a peninsula of the 30th Congressional District wedged, phallus-like (seriously, look at the map), into the 33rd.
But she and Garcia are relatively minor offenders if property records are correct. David Alameel, the man dumping millions of his own cash into a laughable campaign, lives in Preston Hollow. And J.R. Molina? He lives on the Johnson County side of Burleson. The 33rd doesn't even come close to Johnson County.
So: Of the two front-runners, you can vote for Veasey, who apparently just moved into the district, or you can vote for Garcia, who lives a half-block away. Or, if you're committed to a U.S. House member who has lived in your district for more than a month, you can cast your ballot for someone like Carlos Quintanilla or Jason Roberts. But then your candidate will probably lose and you'll be stuck with Veasey or Garcia. Ah, democracy in action.