Monday, August 07, 2006

Del Mar is another place where Juan Garcia can gain Clout

Garcia leads Seaman in fundraising

Incumbent state rep has bigger war chest in District 32 race

By Jaime Powell Caller-Times
August 6, 2006

Democrat Juan Garcia has raised more than twice as much money as Republican incumbent state Rep. Gene Seaman since January.

"He is probably going to be a serious contender," Nueces County Republican Party Chairman Mike Bertuzzi said.

"Gene is going to run a full-blown campaign. He is not taking this lightly."

Garcia, 40, a lawyer and Navy pilot, has raised $205,140.95 to Seaman's $89,956 during the January-to-June 30 contribution period.

But Seaman, first elected in 1996, has a bigger war chest because of funds raised in previous campaign cycles. At the end of the contribution period, after campaign expenses, Seaman has $261,671.74 left to spend compared with Garcia's $80,228.98.

"I have plenty of money to run my campaign," Seaman, 76, said. "It comes from the businesses that back me and from business entities."

District 32 includes 11 of the most conservative precincts in Nueces County along with San Patricio and Calhoun counties, and Republican stronghold Aransas County.

Both men are likely to have the estimated $400,000 that local political analyst Bob Bezdek said they'll need for this race.

Already the two sides are saying the other will be beholden to special-interest money - Garcia to trial lawyers and Seaman to business and conservative political action committees.

Seaman's side points to Garcia's biggest contribution - $59,435 worth of commercial and ad work from California film producer and Web site developer Richard Salazar - as help from the Hollywood crowd.

Salazar was Garcia's roommate at UCLA.

Garcia says most of his money is not from trial lawyers, but from friends from the community and the military.

Sources of donations

Seaman had 58 donations from political action committees and businesses totaling $56,200. His largest is $10,000 from Bob Perry, a conservative Houston homebuilder and large contributor to Republican causes. Perry has also contributed heavily to Seaman's previous campaign.

"Mr. Perry is in the same industry as I am and we have the same interests," Seaman said. "I don't even know the guy but because I am a businessman and we have the same interests, the guy sent me a check."

Garcia has more than 300 donations from individuals, including some Republicans previously in support of Seaman.

More than 100 people, mostly Republicans, showed up for a recent Garcia fundraiser at homebuilder and developer Duane Scheumack's house in Rockport.

Scheumack voted for Seaman in his past two successful campaigns.

"I don't think I am angry at Gene. I just don't know what Gene has done," Scheumack said. "The thing I was impressed with the most with Garcia is his community, home and fireside values. And I sense a great deal of sincerity with this young man."

For Garcia to win

To defeat Seaman, Bezdek said, Garcia has to minimize Seaman's strength in the predominantly Republican precincts in Nueces County and clean up in Calhoun County. He must do as well in San Patricio County as former San Patricio County Judge and conservative Democrat Josephine Miller when she ran against Seaman in 2002. Miller took 58 percent in her home county in a losing campaign. And he must make inroads in Aransas County.

"The conservative areas where he cleaned Josephine Miller's clock, we are not going to neutralize those areas," Garcia said. "We are going to win."

But it's still District 32, where President George W. Bush took 67 percent in 2004. Also, in the part of District 32 that overlaps Congressional District 27, Republican Willie Vaden took more votes than incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz, who trounced Vaden overall, Bezdek noted.

For Seaman to win

To hold onto his seat, Seaman must maximize his Republican clout and neutralize dissent among some of his constituents in San Patricio and Aransas counties, political analysts said.

While Seaman denies that he has lost any support, some constituents and political analysts say that after 10 years in Austin he should have more clout than he does.

"There's really nothing bad to say about Seaman," Texas Monthly senior executive editor Paul Burka said. "He's harmless. Gene's clearly not going to be one of the heavy lifters in the House, but he's a decent and honorable member."

One issue that damaged Seaman in Aransas and San Patricio counties during his last term, is the perception that he nearly allowed the counties to be annexed into the Del Mar College taxing district without their consent.

Residents in both counties complain that Seaman was weak and would not take a stand against the Del Mar measure sponsored by former state Rep. Vilma Luna, D-Corpus Christi, a powerful Democrat aligned with the top Republican leadership.

After a letter-writing campaign initiated in Aransas County, Gov. Rick Perry ended up vetoing the measure.

"I am sure some people feel like he could have been stronger on that issue," said Republican San Patricio County Commissioner Fred Nardini, a Seaman contributor. "All of us in San Patricio County fought very hard to keep that out. I don't know at this point what the outcome will be. With most constituents it's hard to tell whether they have a long memory."

Aransas County resident and Republican Lynn Lee, who voted for Seaman in the past, supports Garcia.

"Del Mar was a great bit of it, yes," Lee said. "I felt he should have taken our side because he had always gotten huge support in Aransas County. In that situation I did not think we should be voted into something where we did not have a say. I now have a feeling that Gene is not aware of what I want."

Aransas County Republican Party chairwoman Verna Yeamans said Seaman has been effective and she doesn't understand what has turned some Republicans off about him.

"Some have never liked Gene," she said. "I don't know if the Del Mar situation has anything to do with why they want Gene out, but some of the key Republicans are so mad at Gene because they say he lied to them. He said he was not going to run anymore and he ran. If that is all they have to complain about, it's shallow."

No comments:

The Secretary of State cleared her to run.

I think these guys are going to learn a lesson or two....

from the attorney general down. The Secretary of State cleared Ms Garcia to run. If you read the AG opinion you will know what a crook this guy is when it comes to the little people. Carlos Valdez, I cant see how he would obtain Jurisdiction given there is no criminal act. This matter should be processed through existing administrative law.

A Voter Registration in Kleberg While Residing in Nueces?

The question is, which home was her domicile. I have been to her Apartment here in Corpus Christi, it sure looks like it is her primary residence.

I cannot imagine Carlos Valdez even having anything to do with this case, given his history with Mike Westergren and I am told with Joe Alaniz as well.

If Carlos Valdez prosecutes this lady, he is a fool.

I stand behind her.