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article imageRetired Iraq war commander Lt. Gen. Sanchez to run for US Senate

By Lynn Herrmann     May 11, 2011 in Politics
San Antonio - Retired Lt Gen Ricardo Sanchez will announce on Wednesday his decision to run on the Democratic ticket for the US Senate seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-TX, in a move likely to spur interest among the state's growing Hispanic population.
Sanchez, a resident of San Antonio, retired from the military in 2006 as its highest-ranking Hispanic, and his military and heritage background could be a major factor in the state’s next electoral process, dominated by Republicans in recent years.
Leading Democrats have been working on luring Sanchez into the political arena, attempting to capitalize on a large Hispanic voting base in Texas, and believe a congested primary on the GOP side will weaken the eventual Republican winner, making for a more level playing field for the Democratic challenger.
Hutchison announced at the beginning of this year that she would retire when her current term expires. That announcement brought out a crowded field of early contenders for her Senate position, including interest from Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, and former Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams.
“Here in Texas, too many families are struggling to get ahead. Jobs are hard to find, our schools simply aren't good enough, and increasing food and gas prices are breaking household budgets. We need to make sure small businesses that drive the economy can grow and prosper,” Sanchez said, MySA reports.
By announcing his decision and filing necessary papers, Sanchez, 57, is now free to raise and spend campaign funds. The race for Hutchison’s post will be an uphill battle, as the state is one of the reddest in the nation, with a strong rural voting block placing it in the GOP stronghold.
Sanchez is issuing the early call on the state’s current leadership issue and said: “Unfortunately, Washington is mostly focused on scoring partisan points and winning elections. I believe Texas needs a strong, independent voice to address the enormous challenges we are facing — leadership that focuses on results rather than politics,” MySA notes.
According to the National Journal, the state’s Democrats are hoping to assemble a 2011 version of the party’s “dream team” strategy during the 2002 election cycle, when the party put businessman Tony Sanchez for governor and Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk for Senate on the ticket. That strategy proved unsuccessful, when they lost to Rick Perry and John Cornyn, respectively.
The top commander in the early stages of the Iraq occupation, begun under former President George W. Bush’s first term, Sanchez was initially connected with the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, but later cleared of any wrongdoing. After that incident, he called for a new commission to “address what happened to the country as a result of the suspension of the Geneva Conventions” by Bush, according to MySA.
Sanchez’ request for that commission, suggested during the Bush years, never occurred.
The state’ last Democrat to hold a US Senate seat was Lloyd Bentsen, from 1971-1993, when he resigned to become Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration.
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