FORT WORTH – State Rep. Marc Veasey claimed a hard-fought victory Tuesday night as the Democratic Party’s nominee for the newly drawn 33rd Congressional District, putting him in position to become the first black member of Congress ever elected in Tarrant County.
In another high-profile area race, Weatherford car dealer Roger Williams clinched the Republican Party’s nomination for the reconfigured 25th Congressional District.
These two fiercely fought, multimillion-dollar campaigns were among the most high-profile Texas races settled during Tuesday’s primary runoff election.
In the 33rd, with 205 of 261 precincts counted, Fort Worth’s Veasey held 53.9 percent of the vote to the 46.1 percent earned by former state Rep. Domingo Garcia of Dallas for the district that stretches from Fort Worth’s Stockyards to Dallas’ Oak Cliff neighborhood.
And in the 25th, Williams garnered 57.6 percent of the vote to the 42.33 percent picked up by retired Army veteran Wes Riddle of Gatesville, with 128 of 192 precincts reporting.
These two races are among the most watched and highly sought-after U.S. House races because of the intense fights that occur for congressional seats when there is no incumbent.
“For me, this election has never been about a contest between Dallas and Fort Worth or between one racial group and another. From the beginning I believed that this district, rather than serving to divide us, would bring us together,” Veasey said. “I am honored you have placed your trust in me and I promise I will not let you down.
“Whether you live in Fort Worth, Dallas, Stop Six or Oak Cliff – I will not let you down,” he said. “Whether you voted for me or for my opponent — I will not let you down. As we are seeing tonight, the Republican Party in Texas has become so extreme that it doesn’t come close to representing mainstream Texans.”
As for Williams, who has campaigned for Congress for more than a year, he said he’s honored by the faith voters put in him as well.
“I’m so happy for my staff. We won and worked hard,” he said during an election watch party in Burleson, adding that he now plans to take a little bit of time off. “We worked for a long time to get to this point.
“We still have to win in November and we will continue to talk about the message we’ve been talking about. … Letting the private sector get the country back on track.”
A closer look at the races:
The 33rd Congressional District, which stretches from Fort Worth’s Stockyards through Arlington and into Dallas’ Oak Cliff neighborhood, is one of four new districts Texas picked up due to population growth and is drawn to give minority voters a chance to elect the candidate of their choice to represent them.
While more Dallas County residents live in the district than Tarrant County residents, more registered voters are in Tarrant than Dallas County. And more black voters – a pillar of the Democratic Party – are in Tarrant, while more Hispanic voters are in Dallas County, political observers say.
“I wish I would have had more time to get to know Tarrant County voters,” Garcia said during an election watch party at the Kessler Theater in Dallas. “If we had more time, I think I would have been able to make up the votes there.
“The fact that we turned Dallas County blue, we laid the groundwork for Tarrant County to turn blue.”
District 33, which has 358,632 residents in Dallas County and 339,856 in Tarrant County, has been labeled a safe Democratic seat by pundits because in the 2008 election President Barack Obama would have won 69 percent of the vote if the district had existed.
After the district lines were formally set this year by a slate of federal judges, 11 Democrats jumped into the race, which quickly became a multimillion-dollar battle to garner support from voters on both sides of the county line. The field was narrowed to Veasey and Garcia after the May 29 election.
Controversies erupted before the May primary — ranging from calls for federal election monitors to Garcia calling Veasey a “paid-for errand boy” of the establishment – and continued in the race for the runoff.
Garcia criticized Veasey for gaining support and funding from top Democrats, saying he would be beholden to big donors, and he said Fort Worth’s Stop Six and Poly neighborhoods “look like ghettos.” Veasey maintained that Garcia was a “bad Democrat” and one of the most distrusted members of their party.
While both candidates mined for votes in their home counties, they also made strides in reaching out to voters in the other county as well.
Veasey faces Republican Chuck Bradley in the November election.
Last year’s redistricting flipped the district so much from Democrat- to Republican-leaning that the incumbent, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, switched to District 35 for his re-election bid.
That left the overhauled district – which stretches from the edges of Tarrant County into Austin and is now home to the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant near Glen Rose, Fort Hood near Killeen, the University of Texas at Austin and the Capitol – without an incumbent. Twelve Republicans quickly jumped into the race to represent the district that draws its biggest population base, about 240,000 voters, from the Austin area. It also includes 150,000 residents in Johnson County and more than 7,000 in Tarrant County.
Williams, a former Texas secretary of state who has been deeply involved in Republican fundraising efforts for decades, recently moved to Austin to run for the job.
“I’m happy this has come to fruition,” he said. “I’m looking forward to representing this district in Washington.”
Riddle retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel after 20 years of service that included tours in Europe and the Pacific. He also taught at the U.S. Military Academy and Central Texas College, was a small-business man and founded and headed the Central Texas Tea Party.
Williams faces Democrat Elaine Henderson of Lago Vista in the November election.
Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610
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