Will Juan Garcia take state Democrats down the road to victory? photo by Tim Eaton If money is any indicator of the success of a campaign, then Garcia might soon be sworn in to take his seat next to eager, young Democrats in the House a farm team poised to enter the major leagues. The rsum of the Navy pilotturned-would-be-politician could earn Garcia an instant voice in the group. His ability to raise money might propel him further. In the first half of 2006, Garcia collected more than twice as much as Seaman, bringing in $205,140.95, compared with Seaman’s $89,956. Seaman somewhat sadly notes that $59,435 of his opponent’s money came in the form of an in-kind contribution for television ads. Overall, Garcia’s contributions came from about 400 individuals, including former classmates, former White House Fellows and Navy buddies stationed around the world. Garcia’s campaign touts the candi date’s proclivity to raise out-of-district money, which Seaman has criticized. The challenger’s total war chest rivals Seaman’s $261,671.74, which Seaman took 10 years to accumulate. Asked about his opponent’s impressively large bank account, Seaman complained Garcia was able to raise cash while lawmakers labored through special sessions, during which fundraising by legislators is prohibited. Of his own campaign cash, Seaman says, “I’m very happy with my financial situation. Don’t tell the lobby that.” In a recent interview, Seaman attempted to use Garcia’s star power against him. He argued that if Garcia gets elected, he won’t be in the Legislature very long. He’s hoping District 32 voters are not interested in continuing to elect new members to represent them. Clearly, Garcia has thought about higher office, as evidenced by his considering and bailing on a possible run for the U.S. Senate when Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison flirted with a bid for gov ernor. He also considered running for mayor of Corpus Christi, a seat most politicos in the area agreed was reserved for then-Councilman Henry Garrett. “I’ve flown airplanes long enough to know whenever you don’t focus on what’s ahead of you, that’s when you put one in the water:’ Garcia says of the charge that the House would just be a stepping stone for him. “I’m going to keep my eyes on the prize.” Whether Garcia heads to Austin when the Legislature convenes in January, or he makes some money with those Harvard degrees, many people expect to see a lot more of him in the future. After all, even if he loses this race, there will likely be others. As we’ve seen with President Busha man with a far less impressive rsuman early loss doesn’t represent the end of a political career. Tim Eaton is an Austin-based freelance writer. He used to live, work, write and report on politics and other matters in Corpus Christi. 18 THE TEXAS OBSERVER SEPTEMBER 22, 2006
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