The Race for the 20th Congressional District of Texas | Texas Public Radio

The Race for the 20th Congressional District of Texas

Sep 26, 2012

Congressman Charlie Gonzalez is retiring from the seat that represents central San Antonio – and now there’s a race to determine who will claim the post. Republican small businessman David Rosa is facing off against Democrat State Rep. Joaquín Castro.

This race is being called a David and Goliath match up, as GOP delegate and political behind-the-scenes man Rosa goes up against the Castro camp, but the voters will decide who will win the open seat.

The 20th Congressional district is the central congressional district in Bexar County and is considered a solid blue district – drawn by the Republican-controlled state legislature to pack in as many Democrats as possible to allow surrounding districts a chance to be won by Republican candidates. Nevertheless, there is a contest to win this now open seat and with the political climate being ever in flux, it's not over until it's over – election day, November 6.

Republican Side: David Rosa

Rosa is pro-life, and is a practicing Catholic who stands with clergy on other policies against health care reform. Though he is one of the behind-the-scenes men of the Texas GOP, he is still promoting himself as a man who is not stuck to the party platform, who will willingly compromise to get things done. However, Rosa has signed the Grover Norquist Pledge Against Taxes, saying that he did so because he feels the government needlessly raises taxes and passes the burden to the people.

"I grew up a democrat in Chicago working for Mayor Dailey. My whole life has been about working with people. I've been in corporate America, I worked for the Chicago Police Department, I was honored to go to the Air Force Academy, and now being here as an insurance agent, working with a lot of different companies both large and small and individuals. It's been my position to always take the other side... trust me, being one of six children in a home and a meager existence, I've had to compromise since day one."

On his time at the Air Force Academy:

"Once I was there and I went through the boot camp and I got my shoulder boards and my ascot, and we got into class, and I was in an intramural sport called flicker ball, I decided that a corporate career back in Chicago was something that I wanted to do. So with a heavy heart I went up the chain of command until I got to a Brigadier General and said, 'I'm sorry sir, I no longer want to be an officer, I no longer want to be a cadet. I wish to be released, get my honorable discharge, and return to civilian college'... I was engaged in so many activities that I started to realize that the military - as great as it is - I wanted to go into a corporate career."

Democratic Side: Joaqín Castro

Castro says that the Affordable Care Act is good for Texas because Texas has the highest percentage of kids and adults without health care coverage. He says that by having them covered, it will help save taxpayers money. Castro says he is open to negotiation, especially on upcoming congressional decisions on taxes and budget cuts, and to take raising taxes off the table indefinitely - as in the Grover Norquist Pledge Against Taxes - would be foolish.

"What we see going on in Washington right now is quite disheartening for people of every political persuasion. The parties have had a problem sitting down and bargaining in good faith. I'm hoping a few things. First, that the November elections will sort a lot of that out, and that in January people will come to the table at least in more earnest than they have in the last few years. I've always been a deep minority as a democrat in the Texas Legislature, and so I feel like I and my democratic colleagues- if we wanted to get anything done - have really had to work with the other party in a bi-partisan way."

On being beholden to the Democratic Party:

"There's no question I'm a strong democrat, I've been a strong democrat in the Texas Legislature. I think that you can have strong principles and know what you believe, but also be willing to sit down in earnest and negotiate with folks who don't agree with you. There's never going to be a time that the elective body you are serving is going to agree with everything you believe and vice-versa, but that's really the beauty of democracy."