Beyond geography, Veasey rose in Fort Worth Democratic circles that had minimal opportunity to flex any political muscle in Congress since former Rep. Martin Frost, D-Texas, lost in 2004. A former Frost staffer, he wields the endorsement of state Sen. Wendy Davis and shares an adviser, J.D. Angle, with her. In fact, it was Davis’ campaign spokeswoman, Rebecca Acuna, who made the 40-minute trek from Fort Worth to Dallas to translate for him at the Univision debate.
But Sanchez’s spending unnerves some Veasey allies, especially in the expensive Dallas-Fort Worth television market. Sanchez, a former Marine, earned his fortune working for cellphone companies such as BlackBerry.
He gave about $1 million of that money recently to his campaign, which is now airing television advertisements on broadcast stations.
“It’s our turn,” Sanchez says into the camera in a spot that aired during the local evening news. “It’s our time. Ahora.”
There is also a Spanish version of the positive, biographical ad.
“You’ve got to take anyone seriously who goes up on network television,” said Matt Angle, a Democratic consultant and Veasey ally. “While I expect [Veasey] to win, he was smart to take any challenge seriously.”
As of the latest reporting period, Veasey had about $460,000 in the bank.
The incumbent was up with his own ad last week on cable, attacking Sanchez as a “Republican.”
Sanchez does have a history of donating to Republican candidates. As recently as the 2012 cycle, he donated to the presidential campaigns of Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry. His donor history includes contributions to federal Democratic candidates, too.
“I’ve been approached by Republicans before. And the answer after 2012 was, they went insane,” Sanchez said in an interview of his former contacts with the GOP. “The Republicans went insane. ... It’s a party that’s going to kill itself.”
Sanchez noted that while he contributed to Republicans in 2012, he eventually voted for President Barack Obama.
Sanchez is running to the left of Veasey on immigration and blames the congressman for the federal government’s deportations.
Veasey fired back, calling the charge “some kind of Republican trickery to confuse voters” in his interview with CQ Roll Call. He then pointed to endorsements from several high-profile Hispanic Democrats in the House. Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, D-Ill., recorded automated calls on Veasey’s behalf.
Veasey also boasts backing of the highest-ranking Hispanic lawmaker in the House, Rep. Xavier Becerra of California, along with his fellow Texas Democrats, Reps. Joaquin Castro and Pete Gallego. Both Castro and Gallego are former colleagues in the legislature.
The primary will most likely be decisive for Sanchez and Veasey in this heavily Democratic district. The winner needs 50 percent to avoid a runoff, which is likely because no other Democrat on the ballot boasts any serious money or campaign organization.
If Veasey prevails, he’ll have to continue to watch his back — at least until the next congressional redraw in Texas.
“Everybody should always consider themselves at risk,” Veasey said. “There’s no guarantee that anybody will ever come back.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.