Although Democrats are already buzzing about the looming Interstate 35 tussle between Congressman Lloyd Doggett and state Rep. Joaquín Castro for a new congressional district, Congressman Francisco “Quico” Canseco’s defense of his sprawling district might turn out to be the better story.
Canseco, so far, has one declared opponent — the man he defeated in 2010, Ciro Rodriguez. But while Doggett and Castro are fighting over a sure Democratic seat, national Democrats will need to reclaim District 23 to have any shot at a congressional majority.
“If we can’t win seats at that level,” said Adrian Saenz, a Democratic consultant who has worked with Rodriguez in the past, “there’s no way we can win back the House.”
And yet the list of Democrats who looked at District 23 and passed keeps growing. It includes Castro, former City Councilman Justin Rodriguez, state Reps. Mike Villarreal and Trey Martinez Fischer, and state Sens. Carlos Uresti and Leticia Van de Putte.
Republicans, meanwhile, seem content to let Canseco defend his turf. He’s one of a handful of Hispanic Republicans in Congress, and with America becoming more Latino in a hurry, that’s an asset the GOP wants to build on. That helps explain why lawmakers added GOP voters to District 23 — and removed Hispanic voters in favor of others less likely to show up.
That might not withstand a challenge in the court battle over redistricting — another reason it’s puzzling that so many contenders took a pass.
I don’t find that part so puzzling. If the Justice Department takes action, it will happen before the filing deadline. If it’s left to the courts, there won’t be a final ruling for years; likely not till the 2016 election, as I’ve suggested before. Ciro Rodriguez is an acceptable candidate if not a terribly exciting one – Stroud says “this race cries out for a jolt of new energy” and I don’t disagree with that. He’ll need to do better on the fundraising trail – his July report shows $98K raised and $51K on hand, while Canseco greatly improved his position with a $579K haul, leaving him with $481K on hand. Not insurmountable, especially if the winds shift back, but quite a decent head start. I’m glad there is someone with experience running in CD23, but my concern that this race isn’t getting the attention it deserves remains.