Garcia to challenge Green in CD29

This will be interesting to watch.

Adrian Garcia

Adrian Garcia

Former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia is challenging 23-year Democratic Congressman Gene Green in the 29th district, he told the Chronicle Monday, a risky intra-party challenge of a popular incumbent.

The move comes less than two months after Garcia’s third-place finish in the Houston mayor’s race, which already had created some ill will among local Democrats upset that he gave up his post as sheriff, costing the party the highest-profile countywide office. The GOP-led Harris County Commissioners Court appointed Republican Ron Hickman, the former Precinct 4 constable, to the sheriff’s post.

“What I am doing is with all the intention to strengthen the party and help cultivate a Hispanic electorate that can help move the country forward and be a part of the process of addressing the critical issues that are a challenge throughout,” Garcia told the Chronicle from the Harris County Democratic Party headquarters. “I’m not challenging Gene Green. I’m challenging Donald Trump with all of his vitriol, rhetoric, dividing the community and insulting hardworking men and women.”

I’d been hearing some chatter about this over the past couple of weeks, so I can’t say this took me by surprise. It’s still a big enough deal to make you step back and whistle. There are already several interesting primaries on the Democratic ballot this March – Kim Ogg versus Morris Overstreet for DA, AL5 candidate Philippe Nassif challenging Lane Lewis for HCDP Chair, and the open seat in HD139 to succeed Mayor-elect Sylvester Turner, to name three – but I think it’s fair to say this one will command a lot of attention. My initial thoughts:

– It’s a little hard to avoid a flashback to Leticia Van de Putte, who left her Senate seat to run for Lite Guv while denying she was really interested in running for Mayor of San Antonio, then ran for Mayor after losing the Lite Guv race. One of Garcia’s stated reasons for stepping down as Sheriff, which as noted did upset some folks given that it changed partisan hands when he left, was that the job he really wanted was Mayor…and now he’s running for Congress. I get it, and I get that there are only so many chances to make a difference in life, but I guarantee you, some people will think about that. There can be a fine line between being opportunistic, and being an opportunist.

– This is one of those times when endorsements from other elected officials, in particular Latino elected officials, will be worth watching. Gene Green hasn’t survived this long in an office that was intended to be held by a Latino politician by sitting on his laurels. He’s got deep roots in the community, and a long list of folks involved in politics and public service, including more than a few elected officials, who once worked for him. His endorsement of State Rep. Armando Walle in 2008 was a difference maker in that primary. Against that, Garcia would be the first Latino Member of Congress ever elected from the Houston area. What wins out, loyalty or history? That’s the question.

– Regardless of Garcia’s words about Donald Trump, elections are about “vote for me and not that other guy”. We don’t know yet what issues Garcia may campaign on, but I do know of one clear difference between them. Green is one of the last Democratic holdouts on marriage equality, while Garcia is a longtime champion of LGBT rights, who won plaudits for his policies regarding LGBT inmates in the county jail. Green’s view may track the 29th District’s, but one way or another that’s a big difference between them. How does that play out in a primary?

There will undoubtedly be more to talk about in the coming weeks, but this is what I’ve got for now, that and the sense that I’m already behind in scheduling interviews for the primaries. The Trib and Trail Blazers have more on this and other filings of interest.

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6 Responses to Garcia to challenge Green in CD29

  1. jose mendez says:

    This is the thing that frustrates me the most about most hispanic politicians that somehow they think that because they have a spanish last name and a background that they will automatically earn the hispanic vote. I can understand why someone outside the Hispanic community may think that, but it is sad when someone within the community thinks the same. It is amazing how a person who deported more immigrants while serving as sheriff now thinks that he speaks for the hispanic community.

    While I don’t care for Gene Green, I have to say that he is more hispanic than Garcia will ever be. I am bothered that Garcia reason for running is because he thinks he can represent the hispanic community better than another person can simply because of his race. It seems like the most cheapest way to mask his personal ego. I can say that our community is smarter than this. We are the biggest swing vote that both parties have. It is the reason why the majority voted for W. Bush and later for Obama.

    My guess is that Armado Walle, who supported Turner over Garcia in the general mayoral election & Green protégé, will campaign hard for Green. My guess is that our community will look at all the hard work that Green has put into the district, especially with the creation of East Aldine District, which is a model in Houston of how a mostly lower income hispanic community is thriving with businesses.

  2. Julain Deleon says:

    This should be a very interesting race to watch. I do think a good deal of folks like the idea of a Latino in this seat. Mr. Green has been a good Congressman, however. At this same time, serving in this role for over 20 years may not be in the best interest of the Community. Change is good for a fresh perspective, new boost of energy into the District, etc.

    Mr. Green is going to have to work very hard to hold on to this seat.

  3. I can’t imagine Garcia having a discussion about ISDS (investor-state dispute settlement) via the Trans Pacific Partnership and it’s impact on municipal, state and federal government.

    Garcia had a horrible mayoral platform. He has no basic knowledge of basic middle class municipal issues, let alone serious trade agreements.

  4. Pingback: More on Green versus Garcia – Off the Kuff

  5. Pingback: Endorsement watch: Latino electeds for Gene Green – Off the Kuff

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