WAXAHACHIE — Gathered on the back patio of the College Street Pub in downtown Waxahachie, Ellis County native and congressional hopeful, Jana Sanchez rallied her supporters with promises of term limits, affordable healthcare and independence.

To make good on her vows, she, or whoever wins the Democratic primary, will have to unseat the 17-term incumbent, Rep. Joe Barton (R), during the 2018 general election in order to represent the 6th Congressional District of Texas on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

According to Ballotpedia, Sanchez is currently vying to defeat John Duncan and Levii Shocklee in the Democratic primary. Neither of the three ran in the 2016 primary, which was won by Ruby Fay Woolridge with 69.7 percent of the 33,419 votes tallied, according to records provided by the Office of the Texas Secretary of State.

Before addressing her supporters in attendance, Sanchez told the Daily Light that her goal is to raise $250,000 for the primary and has already raised just over $57,000. She stated the funds have mostly come in the form of small contributions and “mainly from women” around the country.

For example, Sanchez received a $1,000 donation from Rosie O’Donnell, courtesy of a string of retweets and matching-funds requests.

“When Rosie retweeted it (the matching-funds request) I tweeted to her and asked ‘Rosie can you make a contribution to the campaign? A few minutes later, done. I looked in ActBlue and I had $1,000 from her. It was her notoriety that really helped.”

A campaign update issued to the Daily Light in April showed Sanchez had raised $20,237.49 during her first two months of fundraising, with hopes to raise a total of $1.5 million by the general election.

Sanchez also disclosed that, beginning May 15, she and her campaign team have taken to the neighborhood streets to block-walk three to four days a week. During their walks, the team utilizes VAN — the Voter Activation Network provided by the Texas Democratic Party.

According to the TexasDemocrats.com, VAN helps “empower campaigns and activists with the tools they need to turn Texas blue.” The VAN database provides candidates with information to target those who have previously voted for a Democrat or independent candidate. The website states the technology, which the Texas Democratic Party claims it has invested “hundreds of thousands of dollars” into, ensures the candidate is targeting “the right voters and turning them out to vote while making campaigns more efficient and effective.”

“We target districts that are heavily Democratic or swing where we think we can get more voters and we go out and talk door-to-door every day,” Sanchez said. “[…] The feedback has been amazing and it is my favorite part of the job. Compared to calling people and asking them for money it is one billion times better.”

TIME FOR TERM LIMITS?

During a question-and-answer session after a short speech, Sanchez spoke on the need for affordable healthcare and stated that, because her campaign has identified the No. 1 industry in the district to be retail, most individuals in the area do not have the expendable funds or benefits to cover the costs of the current healthcare options.

She also reiterated the pillars of her campaign to be prosperity and opportunity, doing what is right, freedom and independence.

“A lot of people are moving the other way, from republican to democrat because of Trump,” she told the crowd. “[…] This is a seat that can be flipped mainly because Joe Barton has neglected this district for such a long time. And he has a really nice pension.”

During the 2016 general election, Barton received 46,324 (73.2 percent) of the 62,835 votes cast by Ellis County voters to defeat Ruby Faye Woolridge and Darel Smith Jr., according to results tallied by the Ellis County Elections Office. In total, 62.96 percent (64,355) of the 102,217 registered county voters cast a ballot in the election held Nov. 8, 2016.

In total, election records provided by the Office of the Texas Secretary of State show Barton claimed 58.3 percent (159,444) of the 273,296 votes cast in the 6th Congressional District of Texas.

Sanchez also stated that term limits on congressional members are “very, very important” and vowed, if elected, to serve no more than three terms in office. She labeled Barton as the “poster child” for term limits and stated he has “spent 32.5 years doing almost nothing.”

Though Barton could not be reached directly, a spokesperson from his campaign staff stated “Congressman Barton’s record speaks for itself. He continues to work tirelessly for the 6th district and to promote conservative Texas values. He looks forward to a spirited campaign in the general election should he win the Republican primary.”

ON THE HOMEFRONT

Born in Maypearl and a 1982 graduate of Waxahachie High School with family that has resided in Rockett since 1952, Sanchez attended Rice University and then spent time working in politics in California, as a journalist for Reuters in London and Amsterdam and even as a small-business owner.

After relocating to Ellis County three years ago, Sanchez said she quickly began re-engaging the community.

“It was more fun before I was campaigning if I can be completely honest,” she joked. “I was doing some performing, because I am a country singer, play guitar and write music, so I was playing a lot of local dive bars, basically. That was fun. This is not really about fun, though. This is about doing what has to be done.”

Sanchez said she “never, ever, ever, ever” imagined running for public office and is still shocked that she tossed her name into the hat.

“I have always been the person advising the CEO or candidate,” she said. “I am doing this because I see that Democrats in Texas, or in this area at least, do not run credible campaigns and if they would run credible campaigns then they would win because the majority of people are actually Democrats and independents, but they haven’t been given an option.”