Retired Iraq commander to seek Texas Senate seat

SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson talks about retired Army General Ricardo Sanchez running for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Kay Bailey Hutchison.

By Jim Forsyth

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - Ricardo Sanchez, who rose from a childhood of grinding poverty in South Texas to become a three-star Army general and commander of coalition forces in the Iraq war, planned to file paperwork on Wednesday to run as a Democrat for a Senate seat.

"Unfortunately, Washington is mostly focused on scoring partisan points and winning elections," Sanchez said in a statement on Wednesday.

"I believe that Texas needs a strong, independent voice to address the enormous challenges we are facing. I can think of no better way to continue my record of public service than to represent Texas in the Senate."

A spokesman said Sanchez plans a formal announcement in the coming weeks, but on Wednesday would file paperwork that would allow him to raise money for a campaign for the seat now held by Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is retiring. . .

Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University, said that despite Sanchez's accomplishments in uniform, the former lieutenant general is facing his toughest battle in Texas, where no Democrat has won a statewide race since 1994.

To say the Democratic Party is in a slump in Texas would be an understatement. Republicans hold all statewide elected offices and solid majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. Republican John McCain pounded Barack Obama by nearly 12 percentage points in the 2008 presidential election.

Jillson said the recruitment of a retired general to run for the Senate is an admission the Democrats have no candidates with political experience who could make a legitimate race for the seat.

"But with Sanchez, they've got a candidate who people will look at," he said. "What people will make of him once they do see him, we have to wait and see."

Read the full story.

# # #