Texas Democrats Pushing Retired General Ricardo Sanchez To Run For Senate

It isn’t necessarily unusual to see Democrats recruiting a former military officer to run for office, after all retired Admiral Joe Sestak ran for Congress and the Senate, it is slightly unusual that the man Texas Democrats have their eye on is the man who used to be in charge of Abu Ghraib:

WASHINGTON — Democrats appear to have recruited retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez to run for the U.S. Senate in Texas, setting the stage for a potentially competitive race in 2012 for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Former Texas Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes confirmed that Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the head of the Democratic Senate campaign committee, was referring to Sanchez Thursday when she said that Democrats were very close to announcing a candidate in Texas.

Sanchez, reached by phone at his San Antonio home, said, “I can neither confirm nor deny.”

While Sanchez, the former top military commander in Iraq who was forced out by the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, wouldn’t speak about the Senate race, he did discuss his career and political philosophy.

“I would describe myself as during my military career as supporting the president and the Constitution,” Sanchez said. “After the military, I decided that socially, I’m a progressive, a fiscal conservative and a strong supporter, obviously, of national defense.”

Sanchez, a Rio Grande City, Texas, native, said that he was shaped by his upbringing.

“It’s my views and my history, having grown up in south Texas, depending on social programs and assistance, that America has a responsibility to its people,” he said.

Barnes, one of the state’s last high-profile Democrats, said, “I talked to him. It sounded to me like he’s close to being a candidate.”

“He’s got a very compelling story,” Barnes added. “He’s the one guy who could unite the Hispanic vote. He’ll get the conservative Hispanic businessman.”

There is, though, that whole Iraqi prison problem:

Asked if the Abu Ghraib scandal – where U.S. military personnel and contractors humiliated prisoners in photos seen around the world – had effectively terminated his military career, Sanchez said, “That’s pretty fair.” He retired in 2006.

Sanchez emphasized that he hadn’t known or had anything to do with the actions at the prison and was cleared by Army investigators. His 2008 book, “Wiser in Battle: A Soldier’s Story,” was critical of the Bush administration’s handling of the war. In the interview, he said that President George W. Bush “at times asked the right questions, but didn’t impose his will.”

In all honesty, this is unlikely to hurt Sanchez electorally in Texas but one wonders how eager the liberal grassroots nationwide are going to be to contribute to his campaign.


FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, Congress, US Politics, , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Tony says:

    There’s a broader problem than specific prison-related stuff and that’s the fact that Sanchez is almost universally regarded as having been a rubbish general. If you’re going to nominate a senior officer for political office, it should at least be a good one. Even without Abu Ghraib, you couldn’t pay me to vote for him.

    Who next? Zombie Mark Clark? A cardboard cutout of Humphrey Bogart in The Caine Mutiny?

  2. tom p says:

    In all honesty, this is unlikely to hurt Sanchez electorally in Texas

    Of course not Doug…. this is Texas. A record of torturing prisoners is a plus in Texas.

  3. Ruby Rives says:

    First of all, I would like to say that upon your resigination, I felt you were not recognized fairly by the Bush Administration. I am sorry that your career was not handled properly.

    I finished reading WISER IN BATTLE this afternoon, and would just like to say I appreciate you service to our country, and the sacrifices that you and your family have made over the years.

    May God bless you with His love and presence in your life. And, best wishes to you if you choose to run for the senate.
    God Bless