Democrat Ciro Rodriguez has had to deal with Texas partisan redistricting in the past and benefited from a court-ordered redistricting in 2006. He won with a comfortable lead in 2008. He’s still favored to beat Quico Canseco, but given the dynamics of the 2010 midterm elections, he may find it a challenge this time.
Candidates for Texas’ 23rd Congressional District (two-year term)
(This district includes all or part of El Paso, Hudspeth, Culberson, Reeves, Jeff Davis, Presidio, Brewster, Pecos, Terrell, Crockett, Sutton, Val Verde, Edwards, Kinney, Uvalde, Medina, Bexar, Maverick, Zavala and Dimmit counties. It also includes Pecos, Del Rio and Crystal City. See a boundary map here.)
Candidate: Ciro Rodriguez
Political experience: Rodriguez began serving the district in 1997. He has been a member of the House Veterans Affairs, Armed Services and Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, and the Appropriations Committee. He was once Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus of the House of Representatives. He served for 11 years in the Texas state house.
Professional experience: Prior to his political career, Rodriguez was a board member of the Harlandale Independent School District, an Intercultural Development Research Association educational consultant and was a caseworker with the Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation.
Key issues: Rodriguez says that in his time in office, he has helped expand coverage for children and young adults because they are now eligible for family health coverage through age 26. He’s reduced prescription drug costs for seniors, extended Medicare protections to improve quality of care and made sure insurance companies can’t deny coverage for pre-existing conditions.
He’s helped pass increases to veterans health care and increased support and benefits. He says he has helped increase attention to service men and women’s mental health needs, in particular those who have returned from combat service.
Endorsements: Texas Farm Bureau AGFUND and the Texas ALF-CIO have endorsed Rodriguez.
Chances of maintaining his seat: Rodriguez has a modest funding advantage in this race, according to OpenSecrets.org, leading with $702,422 to his opponents $453,370 in remaining funds as of early October. He’s on a lot of committees that help out his district, and he has name recognition. But it’s not a good year for Democrats and this is a Republican-leaning district, so while he may win, it may be a real squeaker for him.
Candidate: Quico Canseco
Political experience: Canseco, with his brothers, sisters and mother, created the Canseco Foundation to support Laredo community needs. He has no additional political experience.
Professional experience: Canseco is a business owner who has led development on a number of shopping centers and retail stores.
Key issues: Canseco is pro-life, supports traditional marriage and has an “A” rating in 2008 from the NRA. He states on his website he will back traditional marriage as the only recognized form of marriage in the country.
He says the Obama administration is not fully supporting the troops and that they aren’t listening to generals in the field. He would demand full funding for the purposes of killing, capturing or eliminating terrorists in Afghanistan or wherever they may be hiding, he says.
Endorsements: Concerned Women Political Action and FreedomWorks PAC have endorsed Canseco.
Chances of unseating Ciro Rodriguez: Canseco had to face a runoff with Will Hurd, when Rodriguez had no difficulty trouncing his primary opponent. For the main event, he can point to Rodriguez’s votes for health care reform and the stimulus to make inroads with his base, which slightly outnumbers Democrats in this district. There is a path to victory, but the path may be rocky given Rodriguez’s status as a veteran campaigner.
Key Differences between Quico Canseco and Ciro Rodriguez
Jobs: Rodriguez voted against TARP but for Wall Street Reform to empower consumers. According to his website, he’s provided $100 million to district schools to prevent layoffs and protect education, as well as increasing tax cuts and tax credits for small businesses. Canseco wants Congress to slash tax rates for individuals and small businesses. He would extend unemployment benefits from 2009 and not allow the benefits to be taxes.
Borders: Canseco says illegal immigration amnesty isn’t an option, and that the threat to security from immigrant gangs, drug cartels and human smugglers is very real. It must therefore be a well-funded legislative priority. Rodriguez says he’s secured more than $8 million for local law enforcement agencies and has helped hire 1,200 additional border patrol guards and enhanced border surveillance technology through emergency spending.
Texas‘ 23rd U.S. Congressional District
Location: The Texas 23rd District is located in western Texas, running east of El Paso and along the Rio Grande border with Mexico to San Antonio.
2008 results: Rodriguez received 56 percent of the vote to Republican Lyle Larson’s 42 percent.
Demographics: According to the U.S. Census, the district is 65.5 percent Hispanic of any race. 28.7 percent of the district is white, 3.0 percent black, 1.6 percent Asian, and 0.3 percent American Indian and Alaska Native.
The Cook Partisan Index gives the Texas 23rd District a rating of R+4, giving Republicans a slight advantage in this district.