Accusations of dishonesty and Republican involvement fired up the debate between Congressional District 33 Democrats Domingo Garcia and Marc Veasey as they squared off at KERA Tuesday.
When asked to explain who has the better temperament to get results in Washington, Garcia, an attorney who served on the Dallas city council and in the state legislature, proudly stood by his reputation for inviting confrontation.
“I’m a fighter,” said Garcia. “I’ve always been a fighter always taking on the status quo, whether it was fighting for inclusion of minorities in 14-1 in Dallas County, whether it was taking on the Republicans on the Texas Dream Act and immigration.”
Veasey, a Fort Worth real estate agent and state representative, said he’s the candidate who can get things done because he’s a team builder, trusted by legislative colleagues to lead Democratic efforts.
“They elected me to be the whip my freshman year because they felt I had the temperament and the skills and the courage needed in order to fight Republicans like Tom Craddick,” said Veasey.
With the mention of former Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick, Garcia launched an attack on Veasey’s Democratic credentials.
“Mr. Veasey’s first vote as a state representative was to vote and elect Tom Craddick as a Republican Speaker,” said Garcia. “I’m kind of shocked that you voted in the Republican primary in 1996 and voted for Bob Dole over Bill Clinton.”
Veasey shot back, “Once again Mr. Garcia is being dishonest. The vote for Speaker is one that is just parliamentary. We did not have a Democrat that was running for Speaker.”
Veasey explained voting in the 1996 Republican primary by saying he was just 24 years old and it was a protest vote against Republican Phil Gramm.
But Garcia wouldn’t accept the explanation.
“Good Democrats, they file their protest votes in November in the general election not in the primary,” said Garcia.
“Hillary Clinton also cast a protest vote when she voted against Goldwater,” Veasey replied.
“To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen- I know Hillary Clinton and you are no Hillary Clinton.” said Garcia.
Veasey’s response: “In order to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen I would say that Mr. Garcia is one of the most distrusted Democrats in the entire state.”
While the two do agree on many policy issues they disagree on Lockheed Martin’s building of the F-35 fighter plane in Fort Worth.
Veasey applauds the hundreds of North Texas jobs created by the program. Garcia says Lockheed would be better off focusing on the older F-16 fighter jet because the F-35 is a budget buster.
“We need to be smart about how we use our tax dollars because these are tax contracts,” said Garcia.
“Mr. Garcia needs to get caught up on this aviation defense knowledge because the F-16 is a plane that is currently on its way out,” said Veasey.
Garcia also said he strongly supports lowering the penalties for being caught with marijuana. During the debate Veasey said he’s concerned about stiff jail sentences but he didn’t take a position. Veasey’s campaign later said he does not support decriminalizing pot.
In summing it up for voters the candidates returned to that question of temperament and who can get results for voters.
Is it Garcia who says he’s a fighter?
“We need to make sure you have somebody who will fight for you, who won’t say, “I got a $1,000 contribution for this specific interest group and therefore I’m going to vote with that group.”
Or Veasey who claims to be a more trusted Democrat?
“I am going to the Congressman who fights for local jobs. I am the strong and trusted Democrat in this race,” claimed Veasey.
You can hear the entire half hour debate between Marc Veasey and Domingo Garcia at 10 p.m. on KERA TV, Channel 13. It airs on KERA 90.1 Sunday at 5 p.m. Or, watch below: