HOUSTON, Texas — A lot of eyes are on two congressional races in Texas taking place on opposite sides of the state. If elected, both State Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, and former El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar could become the state’s first Latina congresswomen.
Around 750 miles from Harris County, Escobar and her challenger, Republican Rick Seeberger are vying for the seat in District 16, which is represented by Congressman Beto O’Rourke.
Harris County had 115,601 voters cast ballots in person and by mail so far for Texas’ early voting period, according to numbers from the Texas Secretary of State’s office Tuesday morning. President Donald Trump held a rally to throw his support to other Republican leaders in Houston Monday evening.
“This election is about protecting sacred values we all share,” Trump said.
The Harris County Democrats are also in full swing to get people to the polls.
“We’re poised to win and I always tell people, I don’t run to be a first,” Garcia said. “I run to be the best. I’m just excited about the opportunity to go to Washington to do the best I can for this district, which is a working-class district – a district that has focused on jobs, healthcare, immigration reform.”
Garcia’s opponent, Phillip Aronoff, says after four decades of activity and experience with politics, he wanted to keep the conservative message alive in Texas. He says he ran for office because of “fear.”
“Fear that the message of the conservative movement was getting lost,” he said.
Aronoff advocates for a smaller government with less regulation. He also wants immigration policies to tie in with workforce needs. His website calls for Congress to create a new worker’s visa for applicants at the U.S. consulates and border crossings.
“I’m the grandson of immigrants,” he said. “I want people who want to come here to play by the rules, to be able to get in here and I want to make it relatively easy to get here.”
In addition to immigration reform, Garcia also wants to keep the economy growing.
“We’ve got the Port of Houston here that has one of the highest numbers – especially in number one in trade with Mexico, we’ve got foreign trade and we’ve got the petro-chemical industry here,” she said.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, calls this election “the new Texas showing herself to the nation.”
“It’s going to be extremely vital to be represented by a Latina in Texas and for the world and the nation to see an expanded Texas face,” she said.
Both candidates expect their parties to maintain high energy until Election Day.
“It’s just sort of the moment we’ve been waiting for,” Garcia said.
“Even when you feel confident about winning, you still have to keep campaigning,” Aronoff said.