Two longtime fixtures of Tarrant County politics are seeking re-election to the U.S. House on Nov. 8: U.S. Democrat Rep. Marc Veasey and Republican Rep. Kay Granger. They face challengers, but experts say both are in comfortable positions for re-election thanks to their locations in noncompetitive, incumbent-friendly districts.
Thomas Marshall, a professor of political science at University of Texas at Arlington, said the seats are designed through redistricting to be noncompetitive. They aren’t shaky seats in the sense that the election could go either way, he said.
Making noncompetitive districts serves several purposes. One reason is that it increases the chances that Texas will accumulate seniority and get better committee seats. That’s a strategy many states, particularly smaller ones, use, Marshall said.
“(Smaller states) tend to make them safe to reelect an incumbent for a long time so that they’ll build up seniority in positions of leadership for the future, and. thus, be in a better position to help the state with whatever we’re working on at the time,” he said.
Safe seats also reduce conflict in Congress, Marshall said. From the looks of it, he said, both Granger and Veasey are comfortable in their seats.
“I think both of them look like there are people who have longtime congressional commitments. They’re not apparently going to run for governor of Texas or something, or some other big city mayor,” Marshall said. “You know, they seem to be well-entrenched where they are.”
Marc Veasey and Patrick Gillespie
Veasey has held the Texas Congressional District 33 seat since 2013, representing cities like Arlington, Fort Worth and Dallas. Veasey wrote in a statement that he’s running to continue giving the diverse district a voice in Washington, D.C.
“The district I represent faces many pressing issues like access to good-paying jobs, fueling economic recovery and creating jobs, updating our infrastructure, improving public education, and lack of access to affordable quality healthcare,” Veasey wrote. “During my nearly 10 years in Congress, I have worked to combat these issues head-on.”
Veasey served on the House Energy and Armed Forces committees in his most recent term. After Veasey’s district was redrawn to include the section of Fort Worth where the Panther Island flood control project will be built, the project received $403 million in funding through the federal infrastructure bill, which Veasey voted to pass.
“I am seeking reelection because I want to continue this progress by serving and delivering resources to the 33rd district of Texas,” Veasey wrote.
Running against Veasey is Patrick Gillespie, a 65-year-old Republican originally from West Virginia who has lived in the district for 14 years.
“I’d rather stand up and try to make a difference then suffer another two years or four years or longer, without being the person that actually has the control to say yes or no on jobs, on policy on laws,” Gillepsie said.
Gillepsie said one of his top priorities this election is regulating immigration at the border, which he calls “an invasion.” The other priority is the economy, citing the country’s more than $30 trillion debt – which he blames on the current administration.
Kay Granger and Trey Hunt
Granger, a Republican who represents District 12, has represented parts of Tarrant and Wise counties, as well as all of Parker County, since 1997. Granger, 79, is a ranking member of the House Committee on Appropriations.
James Riddlesperger, a political science professor at Texas Christian University, told the Report earlier this year that Granger is the “Dwight Eisenhower of Fort Worth,” known more for her service as Fort Worth mayor in the 1990s than for her identity as a Republican.
“She has a popularity that transcends political party in a time when that is a really unique characteristic,” Riddlesperger said. “While Granger has been a very loyal Republican in her time in Washington, there are a lot of people in Fort Worth that remember when she was just a problem solver and not a ‘Republican’ problem solver.”
According to a mail flier for Granger’s campaign, she supports the military and veterans, defends Texas’ energy industry and opposes open borders. Granger did not respond to multiple phone calls and emails by Fort Worth Report for comment.
Democrat Trey Hunt, 27, is running against Granger because he was disappointed by the lost Democrat-held seats during the 2020 election.
“I think we can just see that the continued rise of extremist rhetoric needs to be counterbalanced with some more progressive ideas,” Hunt, who has lived in the district for his entire life, said.
One of Hunt’s priorities is reforming the criminal justice system, which he calls a profit-based system that is not based on rehabilitation. Another priority is boosting public transportation to aid with traffic congestion. Hunt also said he supports the expansion of medicaid and medicare, and accessible healthcare. He credits his education as one reason why he should have people’s votes.
Hunt has a bachelor’s in psychology from Texas Wesleyan University, a master’s in criminal justice from Texas Christian University and is working on a master’s in social work from the University of Texas at Arlington. Hunt also says he’s a more accurate representation of what the district has come to look like over the years.
Hunt and Gillepsie have an uphill battle. Veasey and Granger have outraised their opponents by hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to campaign finance reports.
Granger raised more than $1.4 million – just over 53% are from political committees. Hunt has raised just below $35,000. He’s received no money from political committees, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Veasey raised $1.3 million this election, most of which came from political action committee contributions. As of Oct. 6, Gillepsie has not filed any campaign finance reports, but told the Report he raised $5,000 of his own money.
Early voting is Oct. 24 through Nov. 4. Election Day is Nov. 8.
Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter at @sbodine120.