Retired three-star Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez will file paperwork on Wednesday to run as a Democrat for the Senate seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas.
Democratic operatives have been wooing Sanchez, who retired from the Army in 2006 as the military’s highest-ranking Hispanic, to run for the seat. Looking to capitalize on the state's growing Hispanic population, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., identified Texas as a possible area for a Democratic pickup. The state became majority-minority in 2005 and had just over 9 million Hispanic or Latino residents in 2009 population estimates.
Sanchez's heritage and military background are expected to help his bid, and he may also benefit from the three Republican hopefuls looking to take on establishment favorite Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. But he could face trouble because of his ties to the Abu Ghraib Iraqi prison scandal. He was initially linked to the abuse but later cleared of any wrongdoing.
Recruiting Sanchez for the Democratic ticket is a sign that Democrats are looking to reprise their "dream team" strategy of 2002, when, in an effort to take advantage of the state's burgeoning minority population, they put a Hispanic and an African American at the top of the ticket: businessman Tony Sanchez for governor and Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk (now the U.S. trade representative) for Senate. The strategy was unsuccessful -- Sanchez and Kirk lost to Rick Perry and John Cornyn, respectively -- and it remains to be seen if Obama and this Sanchez can do better in 2012.
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