Houston Chronicle: For the 29th Congressional District
Here we are in the 21st century, but the Houston area has never elected a Hispanic politician to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Decades ago, the 29th congressional district was carved specifically to create a golden opportunity for a Hispanic politician to win a seat in Congress. (Today it covers Hobby Airport, east Houston, Pasadena and Northside neighborhoods.) But a drawn-out electoral drama in 1992 produced one of the enduring ironies of Houston politics: The congressman for what was designed as a brown district turned out to be a white guy named Green.
Now U.S. Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston, has announced he will retire after serving in the House for 25 years. An open seat in Congress is the chance of a lifetime for ambitious politicians. So it's no surprise that seven candidates are hoping to capture the Democratic nomination for this job.
The frontrunner is clearly state Sen. Sylvia Garcia, the only current elected official on the ballot, who has name identification with this area's voters that stretches back more than 20 years. The breadth of her experience as Houston city controller, a Harris County commissioner and a state senator gives her an almost insurmountable advantage in this race. Congress could use someone who so intimately understands the problems faced by city, county and state governments. So Garcia has our endorsement, but not without some reservations.
Garcia was the only member of the state Senate willing to vote against Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's budget, which relied on a hike in property taxes. Democrats should lament losing that voice in Austin.
It's also noteworthy that Garcia will be 68 years old on the day she hopes to be inaugurated into Congress. It's a safe bet she won't stay in Washington as long as her predecessor. When she retires, the Houston area will lose her seniority on Capitol Hill.
And as a number of her opponents point out, young people are dropping out of the political process, rightly realizing that gerrymandering has rendered November congressional elections all but meaningless. Millennial voters might be drawn back into this election if they had the opportunity to support a dynamic younger candidate. We're especially impressed by Roel Garcia, a whip smart Latino lawyer who we hope to see back on the ballot running for another office.
Also running are Hector Morales, a schoolteacher who interned with the Obama administration; Tahir Javed, a wealthy CEO of Riceland Healthcare Systems; Augustine H. Reyes, a U.S. marine and elevator mechanic. Candidates Dominique Michelle Garcia and Pedro Valencia did not meet with the editorial board.
The Democratic nominee in this district will almost certainly win in November. So next month's primary is effectively the election.
Today is the last day that Texans can register to vote in the primary. For more information, go to HarrisVotes.com or call 713-755-6965. Early voting runs from Tuesday, Feb. 20, through Friday, March 2. Election Day is March 6.