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CANSECO, Francisco Raul (Quico)

CANSECO, Francisco Raul (Quico)
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
1949–

Biography

Elected to Congress during the 2010 midterm elections, Francisco Raul “Quico” Canseco sought to minimize the presence of the federal government in his constituents’ lives. He promoted economic development via balancing the budget, supporting small businesses, and touting tax cuts. Canseco also wanted to strengthen enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border that stretched along much of his district. However, a challenge to the reconfigured district that enabled Canseco to win his seat in 2010 hampered his ability to return to the House for a second term in 2012.

Canseco was born in Laredo, Texas, on July 30, 1949. The son of Francisco Manuel, a physician, and Consuelo Sada Rangel, a philanthropist, the younger Francisco was the oldest of eight children. He went to local schools before enrolling in Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana. Canseco then attended St. Louis University, where he graduated with a B.A. in history in 1972. He matriculated to the university’s law school, earning a J.D. in 1975. Canseco, and his wife, Gloria, settled in Laredo, Texas, with their three children, Anna, Carlos, and Francisco, Jr.1 

Canseco worked in private practice and for a number of law firms between 1975 and 1987 before serving as general counsel for a bank for five years. He was also the director of another small bank conglomerate in the western suburbs of San Antonio. In 1991, Canseco became the president and director of a family-run development corporation based in San Antonio.2 

Canseco became involved in politics after a successful career in the legal and banking industries. He served as an associate general counsel for the Texas Republican Party and on the board of directors of the Texas Federation of Republican Women. He was also an at-large delegate to the 2008 Republican National Convention. Canseco sought elective office when he ran for a U.S. House seat in Texas’s 28th Congressional District in 2004. Although a neophyte, Canseco seeded the campaign with $1 million of his own money and earned enough votes to become one of the finalists in the Republican primary. However, he lost the primary runoff to James F. Hopson, a local lawyer, by a wide margin. After the 2004 race, Canseco used that experience to prepare for a run in 2008. Canseco and his family moved about 150 miles north from Laredo to San Antonio to run in the 23rd Congressional District while building a stronger campaign team. Despite Canseco’s efforts, he lost to Bexar County, Texas commissioner Lyle Larson in the 2008 Republican primary.3 

By 2010, the district was spread over a large range of territory. It spanned more than 500 miles from San Antonio to El Paso, with much of it running along the U.S.-Mexico border. Considered the “eighth largest congressional district in the country,” by the Almanac of American Politics, the district was redrawn by the Texas state legislature, which removed 90,000 Latino constituents prior to the 2010 election. It included all or part of 20 counties, and Hispanics accounted for 65 percent of its electorate.4

In the 2010 Republican primary, Canseco was one of eight candidates vying to challenge Ciro Rodriguez, a five-term incumbent Democrat, in the 23rd District. In that primary, Canseco and William Hurd, a retired Central Intelligence Agency officer, received the most votes (33.6 and 32 percent, respectively) to enter a runoff election. Canseco defeated Hurd with 52 percent of the vote. After his win, Canseco told reporters, “I’m feeling good, but I’m also feeling very humbled by the faith and confidence that the . . . district is reposing on me.”5 

In the 2010 general election against Rodriguez, Canseco spoke out against deficit spending, promoted business deregulation, and promised to preserve the George W. Bush-era tax cuts. He remarked, “we need to get government out of the hair of business . . . it should not be the government running the economy.” Canseco also criticized the Barack H. Obama administration’s promotion of the Affordable Care Act and the $787 million stimulus package that was applied in the wake of the 2008 recession. Canseco also considered border security a top priority, claiming that Washington was out of touch with the illegal immigration into the district. When Canseco labeled Rodriguez as a career politician, the race grew heated.  Canseco prevailed by a narrow plurality, with 49.4 percent of the vote.6

Upon his election, Canseco relished the opportunity to serve in the House. “I’m not a young buck anymore,” the 61-year old Member-elect told reporters. Considered a member of the 2010 Tea Party wave, he described that agenda as “nothing more than ordinary Americans from everyday walks of life . . . crying foul over what’s happening in Washington.” The Tea Party consisted of conservative Republicans who opposed federal social programs and favored reduced government spending. The 2010 midterms enabled House Republicans (with the help of successful Tea Party candidates) to gain 60 seats, which transferred majority party control from the Democrats to the Republicans for the 112th Congress (2011–2013).7

Sworn in to the 112th Congress in January 2011, Canseco earned a seat on the House Financial Services Committee and also was tapped as vice chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Conference. The newly minted freshman also delivered the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address in Spanish in January 2012.8

After entering Congress, Canseco pursued an agenda that appealed to his conservative supporters. One of his bills was an amendment to the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to repeal a provision in the original law that established a financial research office (H.R. 3044). He also sponsored a bill to terminate the Hope VI Program, which provided assistance to public housing agencies for demolition, replacement housing, and site revitalization (H.R. 3539).

On the issue of border security, Canseco submitted the Southwest Cross-border Violence Recognition Act (H.R. 2124) a bill that directed the Secretary of Homeland Security to report on incidents of cross-border violence within a 90- or 180-day period. The bill also offered a federal definition of “cross-over” violence that spilled across the border between Mexico and the United States and threatened the safety of U.S. citizens. Canseco filed the bill “to force the federal government to acknowledge the reality faced by my constituents every day who live and work along the border.” He also sponsored the Border Security Information Improvement Act of 2012 (H.R. 6368), a bill that directed the U.S. Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security to submit reports of cross-border violence to congressional committees. In a House Floor statement, Canseco told his colleagues that monitoring the level of cross-border violence would “ensure that we have the correct policies in place . . . to stop violence, stop drugs and contraband from spilling into the United States.” Although H.R. 2124 died in committee, H.R. 6368 passed the House by voice vote, but did not pass the Senate.9 

Initially, potential competitors passed on challenging Canseco in the 2012 elections because the political composition of the new district heavily favored the incumbent. However, Texas’s 2010 redistricting map was challenged in court in the fall of 2011. In November 2011, a federal court imposed an interim congressional map that returned a significant number of Democratic voters into Canseco’s district. After a three-week trial in early 2012 in which U.S. Justice Department lawyers questioned Texas state lawyers about the shape of the district, a federal judge rejected the 2010 redistricting maps and ordered the use of the interim maps for the 2012 election.10

For his 2012 re-election race, Canseco did not change his platform of smaller government, increased border security, and deregulation. He ran against Pete Gallego, a local prosecutor who handily won the Democratic primary. The race between Gallego and Canseco garnered national attention, especially when the candidates conducted a televised debate in Spanish. The race remained close until Election Day, when Gallego prevailed 50 to 46 percent. Canseco immediately considered a re-election bid in the 2014 cycle. “Things change very rapidly, and two years could be either tomorrow or an eternity away,” he noted. “If the opportunity presents itself, damn right I will [run again].”11

In August 2013, 10 months after conceding defeat, Canseco announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination in the district. “I am the candidate uniquely able to overcome current representation and restore the Texas 23rd to its people, but I cannot do it alone,” Canseco said. In the GOP primary he ran against two opponents, including Will Hurd, whom he had defeated in the 2010 runoff. Canseco and Hurd again were the top-two primary vote-getters with 40 percent each. Although the primary was very close, Canseco lost the May runoff to Hurd by an 18-point margin (59 to 41 percent).12

Footnotes

1Almanac of American Politics, 2012 (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2011): 1591; Politics in America, 2010 (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011): 962.

2“Francisco Canseco’s Biography,” Project Vote Smart, http://votesmart.org (accessed 19 December 2016); “FMC Developers, Inc.,” Texas Corporates-Company Profiles of Texas, http://www.texascorporates.com (accessed 19 December 2016).

3Almanac of American Politics, 2012: 1591; Politics in America, 2010: 962; Texas Senate, Resolution No. 417 (Enrolled Version), “In Memory of Consuelo Sada Canseco,” 75th Legislature, Regular Session, ftp://ftp.legis.state.tx.us/bills/75R/billtext/html/senate_resolutions/SR00400_SR00499/SR00417F.HTM (accessed 14 December 2016); Chris Cilizza, “Texas; Attorney Self-Funding A Bid for Bonilla’s Seat,” 10 May 2005, Roll Call: n.p.; David M. Drucker, “Republican is Quico On the Draw Building His Consultant Team,” 14 June 2007, Roll Call: n.p.; Greg Jefferson, “Republican Jumps Headfirst into the Race for District 23,” 21 July 2007, San Antonio (TX) Express-News: 4B; Tracy Idell Hamilton, “Larson, Canseco Tangle in GOP Race for House,” 1 February 2008, San Antonio Express-News: 1B; Guillermo X. Garcia, “Eight Trying to Dislodge Rep. Rodriguez in Huge District,” 17 January 2010, San Antonio Express-News: 1B; Texas Office of the Secretary of State, “2004 Republican Primary Election-Race Summary Report,” http://elections.sos.state.tx.us/elchist105_state.htm (accessed 19 December 2016); Texas Office of the Secretary of State, “2004 Republican Party Primary Runoff Election-Race Summary Report,” http://elections.sos.state.tx.us/elchist112_state.htm  (accessed 1 November 2016); Texas Office of the Secretary of State, “2008 Republican Party Primary Election-Race Summary Report,” http://elections/sos.state.tx.us/elchist135_state.htm (accessed 1 November 2016).

4Almanac of American Politics, 2012: 1591; O. Richard Pimentel, "Only in Austin Does This Make Sense," 11 January 2012, San Antonio Express-News: 1B.

5Garcia,“Eight Trying to Dislodge Rep. Rodriguez in Huge District”; Gary Martin, “Hurd, Canseco Lay Groundwork for Fall Battle,” 13 March 2010, San Antonio Express-News: 9B; Gilbert Garcia, “Canseco Defeats Hurd,” 14 April 2010, San Antonio Express-News: 1B; Politics in America, 2010: 962.

6Gilbert Garcia, “Candidate Has Faced $715,000 in Liens,” 8 July 2010, San Antonio Express-News: 1A; “Ticket Led to Arrest Warrant for House Candidate,” 30 July 2010, Associated Press; Gilbert Garcia, “Canseco’s Claim about Rodriguez Was Wrong,” 19 September 2010, San Antonio Express-News: 7B; James C. McKinley, Jr., “In House Race in Texas, a Spotlight on the Hispanic Vote,” 29 October 2010, New York Times: 18; “Election Statistics, 1920 to Present,” http://history.house.gov/Institution/Election-Statistics/Election-Statistics.

7Kate Zernike, “Tea Party Set to Win Enough Races for Wide Influence,” 14 October 2010, New York Times; Linda Feldmann, “After GOP Landslide of Election 2010, What Next for Obama?” 3 November 2010, Christian Science Monitor, http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Elections/2010/1103/After-GOP-landslide-of-Election-2010-what-next-for-Obama; Todd J. Gilman, “Freshmen Head to D.C. Full of Ambition,” 11 November 2010, Dallas Morning News: A01; Vanessa Williamson, Theda Skocpol, John Coggin, “The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism,” Perspective on Politics 9, No. 1 (March 2011): 25–43, esp. 26–27.

8“Rep. Francisco Canseco to Deliver Republican Address to the Nation in Spanish,” 23 January 2012, States News Service.

9H.R. 3044, To amend the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to Repeal the Office of Financial Research, https://www.congress.gov (accessed 2 December 2016); H.R. 3539, Hope VI Program Termination Act of 2011, https://www.congress.gov (accessed 2 December 2016); H.R. 2124, Southwest Cross-border Violence Recognition Act of 2011, https://www.congress.gov (accessed 2 December 2016); H.R. 6368, Border Security Information Improvement Act of 2012, https://www.congress.gov (accessed 2 December 2016); Congressional Record, House, 2nd sess. (19 September 2012): H6119. For some of the local reactions to these bills within Canseco’s district, see Gary Martin, “Democrats Target Canseco over Medicare,” 20 April 2011, San Antonio Express-News: 5B; Joni Simon, “Congressman Presents Republican Plan at Town Hall,” 5 May 2011, San Antonio Express-News: 3NW. Canseco is quoted in Martin, “Canseco Seeks Definition of ‘Cross-Border’Violence,”8 June 2011, San Antonio Express-News: 6A.

10Scott Stroud, “Key Figures Passing on Canseco,” 17 July 2011, San Antonio Express-News: 1B; Richard Dunham and Nolan Hicks, “Court’s Maps Could Be Route to Dem Successes,” 30 November 2011, San Antonio Express-News: 1A; Gary Martin, “Redistricting; Trial Cuts to Heart of the Challenge,” 19 January 2012, San Antonio Express-News: 1B; Nolan Hicks, “Redistricting; Area Districts at Heart of Decision,” 29 August 2012, San Antonio Express-News: A11.

11“Election Statistics, 1920 to Present,” http://history.house.gov/Institution/Election-Statistics/Election-Statistics/; Victoria Pelham, “Gallego, Canseco Bash Away in W. Texas Fight,” 3 August 2012, Dallas Morning News: A05; Molly Hennessy-Fiske, “Candidates Contend for Voters in Spanish,” 23 September 2012, Los Angeles Times: A12; Jay Root, “Race Tightens in Divided District,” 21 October 2012, New York Times: 31A;  Gary Martin, “District 23 Race; Canseco Concedes to Gallego after Voter Fraud Claim,” 10 November 2012, San Antonio Express-News: A11; Canseco quote from  Todd J. Gilman, “After Three Bids for Congress, Tea Partier Francisco ‘Quico’ Canseco is Out after One Term,” 9 December 2012, Dallas Morning News: n.p.

12Gilbert Garcia, “Puro San Antonio; Canseco Launches His Comeback Campaign,” 9 August 2013, San Antonio Express-News: A2; Emily Wilkins, “Quico Canseco Will Try to Reclaim Seat from Rep. Pete Gallego,” 10 December 2013, Dallas Morning News: n.p.; Sean Sullivan, “Former Rep. Canseco Faces GOP Runoff against Hurd,” 5 March 2014, Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2014/03/05/former-rep-canseco-faces-gop-runoff-against-hurd/?utm_term=.c852ee70adcf; John W. Gonzalez, “Canseco, Hurd Hit the Road for Votes,” 22 April 2014, San Antonio Express-News: A5; Texas Office of the Secretary of States, “2014 Republican Party Primary Election,” http://elections.sos.state.tx.us/elchist169_htm; Texas Office of the Secretary of State, “2014 Republican Party Primary Runoff Election-Race Summary Report,” http://elections.sos.state.tx.us/elchist112_state.htm  (accessed 1 November 2016) ; Jose DelReal, “Will Hurd wins TX-23 rematch against Francisco ‘Quico’ Canseco,” 27 May 2014, Politico: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/05/will-hurd-texas-francisco-quico-canseco-107142.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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Bibliography / Further Reading

"Francisco (Quico) Canseco" in Hispanic Americans in Congress, 1822-2012. Prepared under the direction of the Committee on House Administration by the Office of the Historian and the Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives. Washington: Government Printing Office, 2013.

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Committee Assignments

  • House Committee - Financial Services
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