COMMENTARY | In 2012, Ted Cruz shocked political pundits by being elected to the U.S. Senate. Linda Vega hopes to pull off an even bigger political upset in 2014 by joining him in Washington. The Houston attorney is considering a run in the Republican senatorial primary next year against popular incumbent John Cornyn, who has served in the Senate since 2002. It would be a long-shot campaign, but her strongest support so far seems to be from two groups a candidate needs to win: women and Latinos. “They are excited. I’m a Texan, I’m a woman, and I’m a business owner. They see a little bit of me and a little bit of them. My story is their story.”
Vega has not officially entered the race to challenge Cornyn, but she has formed an exploratory committee to gauge interest. To hear her speak, however, it appears she has her mind made up. She is focused on defining the reasons why Republicans should choose her over the popular Cornyn, without actually naming him. “If you have been in Washington for over a decade, and you haven’t introduced a bill or anything that is beneficiary to Texas, I would ask people to look at that. Part of being a leader is to lead, not lead from behind, which has happened in recent years with our leadership up there.”
The disconnect between some long-time Republican politicians and the people they represent is a growing problem in Vega’s eyes, one she hopes to change. “I’ve seen a lot of frustration in people and a lot of aspirations at the same time, but their concerns fall on deaf ears in Washington. [Politicians] promise, but they don’t do. Certainly, no one goes to Washington with the intent to gridlock or fail, but they have to stay connected to their constituents.”
A number of established Republican politicians have seen primary challengers in recent years, led by the rise of the Tea Party. Few succeed in unseating well-known incumbents, but Vega has the background that should make her a legitimate option to conservative voters upset with Cornyn for not taking bold stands against the Obama administration. A native of Weslaco, Texas, Vega graduated from UT-Austin and the George Washington Law School. She worked in Washington with the Department of Labor before returning to Texas and starting her own law firm, specializing in immigration, labor, and employment law. Gov. Rick Perry appointed her to serve on the state’s Family Practice Residency Advisory Committee. She is active in Republican party activities and was a founding member of the political group Latinos Ready to Vote.
If elected to Congress, Vega has her sights set on the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Vega believes the law will inflict damage on families but realizes the need to offer an alternative. “How irresponsible was it to pass a law without reading it?” she said. “A family of four would have to pay $1,200 to $1,500 a year. Many could barely make ends meet, much less meet that requirement. Obamacare also penalizes them if they opt out and choose another plan. That’s not liberty. It’s irresponsible for lawmakers to pass something like that, knowing it would affect families and individuals. We need to defund it, we need to reform it, and we need to offer an alternative. Why not give the states the right to choose what health care is best for them? What ACA/Obamacare does is restrict our freedom of choice in health care.”
Vega knows she faces an uphill battle to unseat Cornyn, but she also knows exactly what it will take to win. “Six hundred thousand votes in a primary can change the person in office. That’s why I encourage people to register and more importantly, vote.”
The website for the Linda Vega exploratory committee is LindaVega2014.com.
Victor Medina has served on the Board of Directors of The Sixth Floor Museum and the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce. His other writing credits include The Dallas Morning News and SportsIllustrated.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @mrvictormedina.