Alpine native hopes to upset freshman congressman
By ALBERTO TOMAS HALPERN
FAR WEST TEXAS – Longtime Democratic Far West Texas State Rep. Pete P. Gallego is locked in one of the most combative, confrontational, and aggressive congressional races in the United States.
Gallego, an Alpine native who has served in the Texas House of Representatives the past 22 years, is in a dead-heat race to unseat freshman Republican Congressman Francisco “Quico” Canseco.
The race has seen national media attention from major U.S. daily newspapers, TV news programs, and online news outlets.
Millions of dollars have been poured into the district for advertising and campaign costs, not only from the two national parties, but also from outside spending groups and political action committees, highlighting the significance of the race.
The outcome of the race has the potential to decide the balance of power in the United States House of Representatives.
The congressional district sought is a swing district, not overwhelmingly Democratic or Republican. In fact, the district is nearly split 50/50 between the two major national parties. In 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama received 49.88 percent of the vote in the district and John McCain received 49.27.
“I feel really good,” Gallego said recently in between campaign stops. “The last few days have been great. We’ve gotten a lot of media coverage,” he said of his and his campaign’s efforts.
Asked what he hopes to accomplish if elected to represent the sprawling district in Washington, DC, Gallego said, “The issues that I’m running on are issues that are ours and are no different than across the country: The opportunity to preserve and protect,” he said referring to children, seniors and veterans.
Gallego said that as a nation we have an “obligation to our parents and grandparents” to protect Medicare and that there is a great “debt and honor owed to taking care of our veterans.”
Touching on education, Gallego said he is committed to ensuring that our country provides, “the best possible education,” from kindergarten through high school, but also to strengthen universities and remove barriers keeping youth from attending institutions of higher education. Gallego added that special attention to small businesses must be paid, “So when our kids get the education they need, they can get jobs.”
When questioned about his opponent, Gallego offered, “The differences are pretty self-evident. I think Mr. Canseco is one who only goes the party line. His most significant accomplishment is doing what he’s told by party leaders.”
Gallego sought to distinguish himself from Canseco on the partisan issue, saying, “I think people know, in contrast, that with me they get a voice and it’s a pragmatic voice. When people are right, I stand with them and when they are wrong I don’t. I do not put people in the area I represent behind.”
Regarding the level of bitter partisanship in our nation’s capital, and how he would fare with is counterparts if elected, he listed numerous issues on which he has worked in Texas with Republicans, from criminal justice to education.
He pointed out the latest redistricting map for the seat he currently holds as a state representative as an example of bi-partisanship with Texas Republicans. “Look no further than redistricting. It’s a safe Democratic seat because I got along with Republicans. There is just so much legislation and history of working with people to do the right thing.”
Gallego ended the conversation by saying that he was brought up understanding that elected representatives in government, “Vote for the interests of their district first and not the interest of their party. That independence of West Texas is what I bring to the table,” Gallego said, “And it’s one of the things I’m most proud of.”
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