San Antonio, Texas — Pete Gallego doesn’t make his run to be the Democratic congressional candidate for District 23 much more complicated than it needs to be. “My three favorite things are meeting people, learning new things, and getting an opportunity to find out from folks what their needs and priorities are,” he recently told NewsTaco.
A former state house representative, Gallego says he is familiar with the district, much of which he previously represented at the state level, and believes he is the best candidate to beat incumbent Republican Francisco “Quico” Canseco because people in the district are ready for a change. Canseco declined to be interviewed by NewsTaco.
“I think there’s a desire for a new start because people want to throw out what’s there and start over,” he said. “I think people are interested in anything that moves us forward, it’s not just one thing, they just want to move forward.”
And, for Gallego, that means the people of the district are not anxious to reelect their former congressman, the other Democratic candidate for the seat, Ciro Rodriguez. Amongst Texas’ political class, Gallego is the favorite over Rodriguez, despite the latter’s experience in Congress. Gallego says that he is well-versed on local issues, has built important relationships with all manner of legislators within the district, and for people in the 23rd, “the face of Ciro Rodriguez is looking back in time.”
Gallego is confident that his door-to-door, grassroots political and fundraising campaign, which he told us is rooted in each one of the counties within the district, would reach primary voters and convince them that he’s the right man for the job. During his time in the Texas legislature, Gallego said that he was known as a mediator, one who could bring sides together, and this is exactly what he says the people in the district are looking for.
“I think you get three things [with me] that you don’t get with Ciro [Rodriguez]. You get a new start, you get a person who can raise more money and has a wider network, and somebody who’s going to hold onto the seat,” he told NewsTaco. Gallego added that, while Rodriguez may have seniority on some committees in Congress, Gallego says that he could still do great things on other committees that do not require seniority.
When it comes to specific issues, Gallego would not make a list of priorities, but did say that constituent services, veterans services, education and economic development were important to him. He repeatedly emphasized that, for him as a politician, helping the people of the district and “making it better” would be his focus. And depending on whether voters choose him or Rodriguez on the May 29 primary, Gallego said he would be privileged to serve constituents of the 23rd, and if not, at least have the chance to spend more time with his young son.