A band of powerhouse congressional Democrats — including the second-highest ranking House Democrat and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus chairwoman — is headed to South Texas this weekend to headline a fundraiser bolstering the campaign coffers of U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela's re-election campaign.
The Brownsville Democrat is in a safe district and has little to worry about on the re-election front. A strong war chest will help the sophomore scare off primary or general election challengers.
But for the Democratic heavyweights lending their support, internal House politics are also at play. The more money Vela raises, the more he'll be able to dole out to vulnerable Democrats across the country whose campaigns need a boost.
Sharing the wealth is a tried-and-true way for members to make friends, raise their profiles and climb the congressional power ladder.
About 14 of Vela's colleagues are on track to visit the King Ranch and Corpus Christi to meet Texas donors and help Vela stock up his campaign funds.
For suggested contributions ranging from $2,700 to $5,000, donors are invited to tour the King Ranch on Friday and tour the Texas A&M Kingsville’s “botanical gardens, deer breeding pens and the world’s leading research center for venomous snakes,” according to an invitation obtained by the Tribune.
“It gives us an opportunity to show people who aren’t from Texas what South Texas is like,” Vela said in a Capitol interview last week. “I usually do it with South Padre Island ... but because the King Ranch is in my district, I thought it would be neat to take people out there.”
The second-ranking House Democrat, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, will attend along with Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Linda Sanchez and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra of California. Several Texas Democratic representatives, including Joaquin Castro of San Antonio, Gene Green of Houston, Ruben Hinojosa of Edinburg and Marc Veasey of Fort Worth are scheduled to be there, along with other members.
That colleagues from as far away as California and Connecticut are expected to attend the three-day fundraiser is a sign of esteem for the sophomore congressman. The country’s most powerful House Democrat will add to the state blitz in an unrelated event: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California will headline the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin on Saturday.