December 10, 2013 – Trish Choate (Caller Times)
WASHINGTON — A Democrat stepped forward Monday to vie for the 27th Congressional District seat — just not the Democrat expected to challenge U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi.
Lt. Col. Wesley Craig Reed, a Marine Corps Reserve member and FedEx pilot, threw his hat in the ring Monday after finding out Solomon Ortiz Jr. — whose father Farenthold toppled in 2010 — opted to sit out this year’s March 4 Democratic Primary.
“I saw the need in South Texas to fill the vacuum of leadership that exists out there because of my opponent,” said Reed, who lives in the Flour Bluff area.
Reed, 44, said Farenthold, a Republican, is too extreme for the district.
Farenthold, seeking his third term, disagreed.
“The people in the district I represent are fed up with an out-of-control federal government led by a president who has no respect for the Constitution,” Farenthold, 51, said.
In a squeaker of a race in 2010, Farenthold unseated Solomon Ortiz Sr. The Democrat represented District 27 for 28 years.
Political observers anticipated a grudge match when it appeared national Democratic leadership was courting Ortiz Jr. to go head-to-head with Farenthold in the Nov. 4 General Election.
Over the weekend, Ortiz Jr. decided to not to run but didn’t say why, Nueces County Democratic Party Chairman Joseph L. Ramirez said.
“He spoke with his family and his advisers, and he was just going to wait until 2016,” Ramirez said. “I respect his decision, and we told him we’d stand by him either way.”
Ortiz later Monday submitted a statement.
“After careful consideration, I have decided not to seek election to the office of Congressional District 27 or any other public office in the 2014 election cycle,” Ortiz Jr. wrote in a Facebook message. “I am honored and thankful for the overwhelming support and encouragement I have received. The Democratic ticket is strong and I look forward to staying involved in politics and opportunities in the future with our community.”
Is Farenthold relieved he’s not facing Ortiz Jr.?
“I’m standing on what I’ve done and my principles and what I intend to do,” Farenthold said.
Reed said he brings strong leadership skills to the table and supports the military and the Affordable Care Act.
Nueces County Republican activist Sam Dalton said he respects Reed for his military service as he does all service members, but the health care law is “a disaster.”
As for Farenthold, he’s doing a wonderful job standing up for GOP principles, the right to life and the Second Amendment, Dalton said.
Party websites listed no other challengers in District 27 primary races as of early Monday evening.
While Ortiz Jr., a former state representative, can count on greater name recognition than the relatively unknown Reed, any Democrat running in District 27 likely faces an uphill battle Nov. 4.
Reed said he doesn’t see an easy road ahead.
“The district has changed dramatically since Solomon Ortiz was the congressman,” he said.