U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey has the money, the name recognition and new district lines in his favor. However, the Fort Worth Democrat faces challengers from the left and right in the March 1 primary.

Veasey is seeking his sixth two-year term in the U.S. House, but first he has to face activist Carlos Quintanilla in the Democratic primary. Republicans Patrick Gillespie and Robert MacGlaflin are vying for their party’s nomination for Texas’ 33rd Congressional District.

Quintanilla and Gillespie did not respond to Fort Worth Report requests to comment.

Regardless of their party, Veasey challengers will likely face a difficult time trying to knock off the 10-year incumbent, said Thomas Marshall, a political science professor at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Last year’s redistricting process was mostly focused on shoring up incumbent lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, Marshall said. The new congressional map — which saw Texas gain two seats — has been criticized for not better reflecting the state’s changing demographics.

The claw-shaped district encompasses parts of Tarrant and Dallas counties. Previously, the district had larger, more contiguous swaths of both counties. An overwhelming majority of district residents are people of color.

Money is another factor. Long-term incumbents like Veasey stockpile money to scare off any serious opponents and acts as a signal that they plan to run for another term, Marshall said. 

The Fort Worth Democrat has amassed a war chest of more than $852,000, according to Jan. 31 campaign finance reports. 

His closest rival is MacGlaflin, who raised $1,081 through the end of 2021; he has $956 in cash on hand. The Federal Election Commission did not have any campaign finance reports from Quintanilla nor Gillespie.

Veasey said in a statement he is running for another term to keep giving diverse communities in the district a voice in the Capitol.

“The district I represent faces many pressing issues like access to good-paying jobs, fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and fueling an economic recovery, updating our infrastructure, improving public education, and lack of access to affordable quality healthcare,” the congressman said. “During my nearly 10 years in Congress, I have worked to combat these issues head-on.” 

Despite Veasey’s incumbency advantages, MacGlaflin, a Navy veteran, is happy to take on the challenge. If elected, MacGlaflin plans to focus on strengthening the military, assisting District 33 residents and trying to bring a more constitutional-based approach to Congress. Voters have told MacGlaflin they only see Veasey for photo ops when he is in the district. 

“They’d like to see someone who’s more out in the public talking and listening to their needs,” the Dallas Republican said.

Quintanilla, who has sought the seat four times since 2012, also has criticized Veasey for not spending more time in the district. His campaign site says Veasey has abandoned and ignored District 33 residents. 

Quintanilla characterizes himself as the activist voice the district needs. His campaign is focusing on jobs, economic development and improved health care access.

MacGlaflin also derided Veasey’s support of the long gestating Panther Island/Central City Flood Project. Panther Island was moved into Veasey’s district during last year’s redistricting process. Previously, it was in Rep. Kay Granger’s district. In January, the project received more than $400 million in federal funds. 

The hundreds of millions of dollars would be better used on projects that benefit the public rather than developers, MacGlaflin said.

Veasey, though, touted his effort to work with the Biden administration to get funding for Panther Island.

“I am seeking re-election because I want to continue this progress by serving and delivering resources to the 33rd district of Texas,” the Fort Worth Democrat said.

Gillespie works in supply chain solutions for UPS. His website says he supports increased border security and will stick to the Republican Party platform if elected.

Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at jacob.sanchez@fortworthreport.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Jacob Sanchez

Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise reporter for the Fort Worth Report. His work has appeared in the Temple Daily Telegram, The Texas Tribune and the Texas Observer. He is a graduate of St. Edward’s University.

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