Rosie O'Donnell showers cash and attention on a North Texas political newcomer

2017-05-19 | Fort Worth Star-Telegram

May 19--It's not every day a local congressional race gains national attention.

But that's what happened recently when Rosie O'Donnell retweeted a note seeking donations for Jana Sanchez, a Waxahachie woman who plans to challenge U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, on the ballot next year.

Then O'Donnell -- a famous comedian and actress with more than 1 million followers on Twitter -- personally donated $1,000 to the campaign.

"This was a dream of mine," said Sanchez, a 52-year-old Democrat and communications consultant who is making her first bid for office. "Whenever she tweets you, you raise a lot of money."

After O'Donnell's retweet, which more than 350 people also retweeted, Sanchez raised about $2,500. Add that to O'Donnell's $1,000 donation and other money raised and Sanchez said she has raised about $32,000 in the first three months of her campaign.

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, has represented District 6, which includes most of Arlington and Mansfield and all of Ellis and Navarro counties, since 1985.

Barton has represented District 6, which includes most of Arlington and Mansfield and all of Ellis and Navarro counties, since 1985. The first day to file to be on the 2018 ballot is Nov. 11.

Sanchez -- who describes herself as a centrist Democrat who is pro guns and term limits -- said she's ready to file.

"I did not sleep on Nov. 8, but I sure as hell woke up Nov. 9," she said as to why she's running for this office. "I have a fear for the Constitution and democracy."

Some Republicans say O'Donnell's involvement ensures more GOP support for Barton.

Endorsement

Jennifer Trevino, who placed third in a four-way race for the District 2 spot on the Fort Worth City Council, has endorsed Carlos Flores in the June 10 runoff and is asking her supporters to do the same.

Flores is facing Steve Thornton. Flores received 43 percent of the vote and Thornton 36 percent of the vote, which led to the runoff. Trevino received 18 percent of the vote.

Trevino said in a statement that Flores shared the same concerns she does about the district, including job growth, economic development and investment in city services, infrastructure and safe neighborhoods.

"During the course of the campaign, I got to know all the candidates," she said. "I urge my supporters and voters in District 2 to join me and rally behind the most qualified candidate to represent our community at City Hall."

Flores said he is "deeply grateful" for the endorsement. He's also endorsed by Mayor Betsy Price, the Fort Worth Police Officers Association, Fort Worth school board President Jacinto Ramos Jr., former Mayor Mike Moncrief and former District 2 Councilman Jim Lane.

Thornton has received the endorsement of the Fort Worth Fire Fighters, who have spent more than $80,000 in cash and in-kind gifts on his campaign. This is his second bid for the office. He ran against Sal Espino in 2015. Espino is stepping down after six terms.

Early voting for the runoff is May 29 to June 6. Thornton's name will appear first on the ballot.

Calling for change

Tarrant County Republicans are hoping to send a message to the Texas Legislature and Gov. Greg Abbott.

The group recently passed two resolutions.

One asked Abbott to call a special session "to pass stronger pro-life legislation if the abortion bill or the dismemberment bill are not passed." The second asks Abbott to call a special session "to lower the property tax burden on Texans if property tax reform is not passed."

The legislative session wraps up May 29.

Local man in contention

One of two open seats on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals could soon be filled by a local man.

The president generally nominates candidates based on recommendations by U.S. senators.

And John Cornyn, the senior U.S. senator from Texas, has at least one recommendation: U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor, who is based in Fort Worth, according to the Austin American-Statesman and other news outlets.

Those reports show O'Connor, a former aide to Cornyn, is believed to be the senator's top pick for the court.

Other Texans, including Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett, also are in consideration.

Staff writer Sandra Baker contributed to this report.

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley