Lorenzo Sanchez Wants to Provide Healthcare to Uninsured Texans
Sanchez is running for one of the state House seats that Democrats are hoping to flip.
Lorenzo Sanchez thinks his district isn’t getting the representation it deserves. He hopes that he can win the race for the state House of Representatives seat in District 67 on Tuesday—and help turn the Texas House blue in doing it.
District 67, which includes parts of Plano, Allen, Richardson, and Dallas, is one of 22 Republican-controlled seats Democrats are targeting. Like most of the other districts that Democrats have their eyes on, the last state House race there was decided by a single-digit margin. And the district voted for former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke in 2018, when he narrowly lost his U.S. Senate battle against the incumbent Ted Cruz. Sanchez’s top priorities are expanding Medicaid, increasing funding for public education, and reforming the criminal justice system.
Sanchez is a first-generation Mexican American who was raised in the district by his mother, whom he credits with teaching him the value of hard work and sacrifice. After graduating from business school in Chicago in 2010, Sanchez returned to Plano to be with his family. He owns a small realty business and is involved in his community, having volunteered to support Democratic candidates and to help children with disabilities. “If elected, Lorenzo will be the only openly LGBTQ+ man in the Texas Legislature and the first Latino from Collin County ever elected to the state legislature,” his campaign website says.
“It’s going to come down to hundreds of votes for us,” Sanchez said. “We deserve better leadership than we’ve been getting. … We have a legislature focused on bathroom bills, these bills are just to divide people. It doesn’t match up for the care that people have for their neighbors here.”
Democrats could flip the Texas House for the first time in almost two decades this week. About 30 of Texas’s 150 House seats are seen as competitive, including the seat that Sanchez is vying for. To take the state House, Democrats need to pick up nine seats and keep the ones they have, including the 12 they picked up in 2018.
If Democrats win the House, the GOP stronghold on the Texas state government would end. Their win would put a dramatic stop to conservatives’ ability to push their preferred policies on prominent matters like abortion rights, energy policy, and Medicaid expansion, and it would give Democrats a seat at the redistricting table. Texas has the second-largest congressional delegation in the country, and next year, the state’s U.S. House seats—and the Texas Senate and Texas House of Representatives—will all be redistricted. If the Republican Party can keep control of the state House, it will be able to draw districts that improve chances of keeping control of the state legislature and increase the likelihood of retaking control of the U.S. House.
A break in Texas’s Republican trifecta would mean that if Sanchez wins, there’s a better chance he could pass legislation on some of his key issues: Medicaid expansion, public education funding, and criminal justice reform.
Texas has the highest rate of uninsured residents in the United States. Most low-income Texans support expanding Medicaid, and a September policy brief from Texas A&M University found that expanding Medicaid in the state could bring $5.4 billion in federal funding and would provide an estimated nearly one million low-income Texans with health insurance. Yet the Republican-controlled legislature has refused to expand Medicaid.
“Healthcare is a huge issue, even before the pandemic,” Sanchez said. “People are looking for solutions, and I think regardless of these political races, we need legislators up there who are going to provide something of substance to people. It’s just awful the way Texas is right now with the lack of healthcare in our state.”
Sanchez says that if he is elected, he will advocate for a range of healthcare reforms, including expanding Medicaid, reducing out-of-pocket costs, ensuring rural communities and military families are covered, lowering prescription drug costs, ending price gouging, and working with local communities to establish more mental health facilities. A long-term goal, according to his website, is to “fight to provide healthcare security to all Texans through a single-payer system.
Ensuring that Texas’s public education system won’t face cuts this upcoming legislative session—especially given the budget shortfalls expected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic—is another priority for Sanchez. Texas ranks 42nd in the nation when it comes to public school education, according to Education Week’s 2020 Quality Counts report card. Sanchez says he wants to raise teacher pay, reduce class sizes, and make sure students have access to mental healthcare.
“We know there’s going to be shortfalls this year, so I’ve been talking about tapping into our rainy day fund to make sure we can shore up education right now,” Sanchez said. “We have big tax cutouts for the wealthy and corporations, and they don’t need it. We need to restore public education funding to pre-recession levels.”
Sanchez has promised to enact change when it comes to criminal justice reform. “The criminal justice system is broken,” Sanchez said on his website. “We need a more humane system that helps victims and reforms offenders rather than one that’s financially irresponsible and overly punitive.”
Sanchez says he wants to require a special prosecutor to review all police misconduct cases, and to abolish private prisons, cash bail, mandatory minimums for nonviolent offenses, and the death penalty. He would also call for the legalization of marijuana and expungement of criminal records for nonviolent marijuana offenses.
While Sanchez’s opponent, Jeff Leach, has tried to paint him as an “anti-police zealot,” Sanchez contests that claim and said he does not support defunding police or disarming them. On his website, Sanchez elaborates on his stances when it comes to police reform, stating that he supports banning police chokeholds, ending qualified immunity, suspending officers who engage in racial profiling, and requiring officers to complete regular psychological exams and trauma-informed training.
Sanchez noted that a Democrat hasn’t won the county in a presidential race since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. “We’re trying to make history,” he said.
“I promise to be the person to try to provide solutions to move us to a better place. I love my community, I want to make sure they’re not getting taken advantage of.”