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2 Dallas Democrats in bruising primary for Texas Senate seat

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2 Dallas Democrats in bruising primary for Texas Senate seat


AUSTIN – The race to represent a Dallas-area state Senate district is a surprise contest between two veteran lawmakers in one of the more high-profile elections in the March 5 Democratic primary.

The race pits incumbent Sen. Nathan Johnson against state Rep. Victoria Neave Criado in a bruising campaign that has left both candidates on the defensive for their voting records.

The race features a rare challenge to a well-funded incumbent in Johnson, who flipped the Dallas County Senate district from red to blue in 2018 before it was reshaped into a safe seat for Democratic candidates in the last round of redistricting.

But Neave Criado has largely dictated the campaign’s narrative by launching repeated attacks on Johnson’s voting record in the Legislature, particularly his support for an immigration bill pushed by Gov. Greg Abbott.

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Neave Criado has called Johnson’s support for the law, which increased the criminal penalty for human smuggling, a “racial profiling” bill. Johnson says the law has been on the books for decades and has accused Neave Criado of muddling facts.

“He has thrown the residents of Senate District 16 under the bus. He should have fought against that bill and he should have voted against it,” Neave Criado said in a recent interview with The Dallas Morning News.

The Legislature passed the bill in question last year during the third special session. Named a priority by Abbott, Senate Bill 4 increased the penalty for human trafficking from 5 years to 10 years in prison. It had bipartisan support in both chambers, and Johnson voted for the bill.

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Johnson has responded to Neave Criado’s attack with his own swipes at her voting record in the Legislature, including her support for bills that required the national anthem to be played at professional sporting events, required schools to display “In God We Trust” posters and prohibited private employers from requiring COVID-19 vaccines.

“She’s tried to attack me in areas where I’ve been very strong,” Johnson said in a recent interview, “and so I don’t blame her, because her record doesn’t stack up to mine. So she’s going to make up stuff to try to make people think that she’s more of a fighter.”

The candidates

Johnson, 56, is a lawyer with a focus on commercial litigation at the national law firm Thompson Coburn. He has lived in Dallas for nearly three decades and has a degree in physics from the University of Arizona and a law degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

He is a composer who has created music for the classical stage and has scored more than 60 episodes of the television series “Dragon Ball Z.”

Texas Sen. Nathan Johnson, D-Dallas, takes notes while listening during Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial in the Senate chamber at the Texas State Capitol in Austin on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023.(Juan Figueroa / Staff Photographer)

Neave Criado, 43, was born in Dallas and grew up in the Pleasant Grove neighborhood. She is the daughter of a Mexican immigrant father and Tejana mother. She attended high school at Ursuline Academy before attending the University of Texas at Dallas, where she earned a degree in government and politics.

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She got her law degree from Texas Southern University. She is the head of her law firm, Neave Law, in Dallas and focuses on family and employment law as well as mediation.

Legislative records

Neave Criado was first elected to the House in 2016, narrowly unseating a Republican incumbent by fewer than 1,000 votes.

In her four terms in the House, Neave Criado’s signature legislative accomplishment has been the Lavinia Masters Act, named for a Dallas woman whose rape kit sat untested for 21 years. The law required law enforcement agencies to work through backlogs of sexual assault forensic exams.

Neave Criado has focused on domestic violence and violence against women, authoring bills that address domestic and sexual assault, including a law this year that created a public database for repeat offenders.

“That’s the type of leadership that I bring – finding solutions, bringing subject matter experts together to deliver significant results for the women of Texas,” Neave Criado said.

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State Rep. Victoria Neave Criado, D-Mesquite, in the House chamber of the Texas Capitol in...
State Rep. Victoria Neave Criado, D-Mesquite, in the House chamber of the Texas Capitol in Austin on Thursday, May 4, 2023.(Juan Figueroa / Staff Photographer)

She is the chair of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus in the House, chair of the House Committee on County Affairs and a member of the Business and Industry Committee.

Johnson has been in office since 2019. In recent years he has focused on addressing the Texas power grid and led the effort to add $1.8 billion in funding for backup power systems for critical infrastructure such as hospitals and first responders.

He has also focused on health care needs and a leading proponent for the state to accept federal dollars for Medicaid expansion. In three sessions, Johnson has been the driver behind legislation that requires testing for an infant disease that causes hearing loss, improves palliative care and boosts mental health programs for teens.

“The things I’m most proud of are the bills that help people, individuals at the beginning of life and the end of life and in between,” he said.

He is a member of four Senate committees, including Business and Commerce, and is vice-chair of the Jurisprudence Committee.

Endorsements and campaign funds

Johnson has been endorsed by six state senators, including fellow Dallas Democratic Sen. Royce West. Five members of the Dallas City Council, former Mayor Ron Kirk and numerous organizations, including the Texas AFL-CIO and the Dallas Police Association, have thrown their support behind Johnson.

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Neave Criado has pulled in support from several Dallas-area colleagues in the House, including Dallas Democratic Rep. John Bryant. She’s been endorsed by three Dallas City Council members, the Mesquite Police Association and the Texas Organizing Project.

Johnson entered the race in a stronger financial position than Neave Criado that he has continued to maintain with nearly $750,000 in his campaign account, compared with $33,000 for Neave Criado, heading into the campaign’s homestretch, according to the latest campaign finance reports.

Johnson has pulled in large donations from power transmission companies and a health care organization, while Neave Criado’s top contributor is a Dallas plumbers and pipefitters union.

The Senate district

Both candidates are running for Senate District 16, one of 31 seats in the Senate. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is the president of the chamber and wields tremendous power in dictating what bills will come up for a vote.

For 38 years, a Republican represented the North Texas district until Johnson ousted GOP incumbent Don Huffines in 2018 in a midterm election that saw wide Democratic gains in the Texas Legislature.

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After the 2020 census, the Legislature redrew the district lines, changing it from a northern Dallas County-centric district that included Carrollton and Garland to a jigsaw containing parts of Dallas and suburbs that ring west, north and east Dallas, including portions of Richardson, Irving and Mesquite.

It is now considered a safe blue seat that favored Joe Biden over Donald Trump by a near 2-to-1 margin in 2020.

Redistricting shifted the demographics of the district from a near-even split between white and non-white residents to a district that has a 73% non-white population. Half of the district is Hispanic.

Neave Criado said the district needs representation that better resembles its population.

“I understand the needs of the residents of this district and I will be a better representative hands down, and that’s where we’re working hard to earn the votes of our fellow neighbors,” Neave Criado said in a Spectrum News interview in January.

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Johnson said that decision is up to the voters, but residents of the district deserve good representation.

“They deserve people who are going to take into account their interests and their needs – particularly things like health care, education, fundamental infrastructure needs – and they’re going to choose the person who best represents them,” he said.

Early voting for the primary begins on Feb. 20. Election day is March 5.



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Dallas, TX

Sealy scores late, Dallas opens with 2-1 victory over Earthquakes

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Sealy scores late, Dallas opens with 2-1 victory over Earthquakes


FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Dante Sealy scored his second career goal, finding the net in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time to rally FC Dallas to a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes in a season opener on Saturday night.

San Jose jumped out to a 1-0 lead just six minutes into the match on a goal by Benjamin Kikanović, matching his total in 24 appearances last season.

Dallas pulled even in the 25th minute on Asier Illarramendi’s first career goal. Illarramendi notched an assist in seven starts and 11 appearances last year in his first season.

Sealy’s only other goal came during the 2021 season with Dallas. He has made three starts and 22 appearances in parts of five seasons with the club.

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Maarten Paes totaled four saves for Dallas. Daniel De Sousa Britto saved seven shots for the Earthquakes.

San Jose leads the all-time series 29-22-22, but Dallas improved to 14-12-10 at home.

Dallas played without all three of its designated players. Jesús Ferreira is nursing a muscle injury. Alan Velasco is still recovering from an ACL injury suffered in the playoffs last season. Newcomer Petar Musa is in Croatia awaiting a work visa.

Dallas will host CF Montreal on March 2. San Jose travels to play the Los Angeles Galaxy on March 2.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sport





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Cowboys linebackers roster review: Lots to sort out after 2023’s challenges

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Cowboys linebackers roster review: Lots to sort out after 2023’s challenges


The linebacker position arguably faced the most adversity of any spot on the Dallas Cowboys’ 2023 roster. That means some big questions to answer going forward, with some players’ returns not guaranteed and a new defensive coordinator potentially bringing new philosophies to the group.

The trouble began in the preseason when rookie DeMarvion Overshown was lost for the year with an ACL injury. The third-round pick had been one of the stars of training camp and was already being considered for a key part in the LB rotation, particularly on passing downs. That move led to Markquese Bell’s transition from safety to linebacker, where he picked up the snaps that would’ve likely belonged to Overshown.

Bell performed admirably given the field promotion, being undersized for LB work but having that mitigated by playing in the nickel. But then, after just five games, Leighton Vander Esch was lost to a neck injury. Now Dallas’ top linebacker was out, leaving Bell and Damone Clark as the next men up with neither possessing Vander Esch’s experience or size.

The Cowboys’ smallish defense, Clark and Bell included, was able to do plenty of good work in 2023. But their weakness against the run was a key issue in late-season losses and the blowout elimination by the Packers. The group would need work even if Dan Quinn had stayed, but now Mike Zimmer’s arrival could mean even bigger changes.

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LBs Under Contract for 2024

  • Leighton Vander Esch – $4.40m cap hit
  • Damone Clark – $1.05m cap hit
  • Markquese Bell (S) – $990k cap hit
  • DeMarvion Overshown – $1.23m cap hit
  • Buddy Johnson – $915k cap hit

One note; we didn’t include Micah Parsons here but rather in our review of the defensive ends. The rare dropback doesn’t make Parsons a true linebacker on this team; his dominant usage is as a pass-rushing edge so it made more sense to look at him in that context. So while technically a LB on the Cowboys roster, like Bell still technically being listed at safety, we’re focusing on where guys spend the majority of their playing time.

Who’s Buddy Johnson, you may be wondering? A fourth-round pick in 2021 by Pittsburgh, Johnson has bounced around practice squads for three years and landed with the Cowboys last October. He’s nothing more than a camp body at the moment.

While Dallas looks forward to getting Overshown back and hopefully regaining his previous momentum, the future is murky for Vander Esch. While he’d be a bargain at just a $4.4 million cap hit, Vander Esch’s chronic neck issues call his reliability and even his career into question. At the time he went on IR last October, some speculated that he might retire rather than risk more severe consequences.

Even if Vander Esch wants to keep playing the Cowboys may not want to facilitate it. They can release him at about $2.15 million in cap relief, which they would also get if he decides to retire. Right now, our bet is that Vander Esch isn’t coming back either by his own choice or by the team’s.

Even if he did return, Dallas would still be in trouble with both Vander Esch and Overshown coming off major injuries. And if Mike Zimmer isn’t down with Dan Quinn’s approach of using safeties as linebackers, that could mean losing Bell and Jayron Kearse (if he’s even re-signed) from the snap counts. That would mean a thin LB group with two of your top three holding significant red flags.

All this sets up a clear priority for the Cowboys this offseason. Replacing Vander Esch is an obvious need if he’s gone, and ensuring against injury if he stays would be nearly as crucial. Dallas needs at least one more run-stopper in the group in either scenario.

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There should be options in free agency. Big-name veterans like Bobby Wagner and Lavonte David are on expiring deals, and though older both are still productive and would bring leadership to the group. A run-focused LB like Tenneesee’s Azeez Al-Shaair or Minnesota’s Jordan Hicks could make sense, being more of an early-down guy who rotates out with Clark and Overshown in nickel.

While the draft is another option, losing Vander Esch would likely push Dallas more toward free agency for a proven guy ready to contribute now. Maybe they have more faith in Damone Clark to lead the pack than we know, but that seems risky for a team with the Cowboys’ aspirations and supposed “all-in” approach to 2024.

Again, we still have to see what’s going to happen with Leighton Vander Esch to really grasp the picture at linebacker. But his staying or leaving doesn’t change the need for attention this offseason. Last year showed the group was not ready to suffer his loss, especially in run defense, and the Cowboys can’t keep letting this weakness linger.



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FC Dallas vs San Jose Earthquakes – lineup prediction and game info – 3rd Degree

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FC Dallas vs San Jose Earthquakes – lineup prediction and game info – 3rd Degree


Here we go!! Season 29 of MLS (and season 27 of 3rd Degree’s coverage) kicks off for FC Dallas on Saturday night (7:30 pm) at Toyota Stadium against Luchi Gonzalez and the Earthquakes.

You can catch all our start-of-season content here:
Season Kickoff Podcast
Six factors that will determine FC Dallas’ fate in 2024
Digging into the FC Dallas 3-4-2-1 depth chart for opening day
Final check on the 2024 FC Dallas roster build
The basics of the FC Dallas 3-4-3

Broadcast Info

TV: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV
Apple TV English: Eric Krakauer and Jalil Anibaba
Apple TV Spanish: Raul Guzman and Carlos Ruiz

English Radio: 1190 am and the FC Dallas App.  Owen Newkirk and Steve Davis are on the call. Pregame at 7 pm.

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Spanish Radio:  FC Dallas app with Carlos Alvarado and Rafa Calderon.

MLS Injury/Player Availability Report

FC Dallas 

OUT: Geovane Jesus (right knee)
OUT: Alan Velasco (left knee)
OUT: Marco Farfan (lower back)
OUT: Amet Korca (left groin)
OUT: Jose Mulato (un-rostered)
OUT: Peter Musa (awaiting P-1 visa)
OUT: Tsiki Ntsabeleng (picking up green card)
Questionable: Enes Sali (listed in North Texas SC travel squad)
Questionable: Tarik Scott (listed in North Texas SC travel squad)
Questionable: Ale Urzua (listed in North Texas SC travel squad)
Questionable: Isaiah Parker (listed in North Texas SC travel squad)
Questionable: Jesus Ferreira (“lower body”)
Questionable: Paxton Pomykal (knee)
Probable: Ema Twumasi (ankle)

Antonio Carrera was loaned to North Carolina FC.

San Jose Earthquakes

OUT: JT Marcinkowski – (Knee Surgery)
OUT: Niko Tsakiris – (Lower Body Injury)

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FCD Lineup Prediction

With Petar Musa not yet in town, the choices at the 9 are Logan Farrington or Eugene Ansah. I’m rolling with Farrington but it could easily be the opposite.

Sebastian Lletget gets the nod over Bernie Kamungo at one of the 10s with Paul Arriola.

Asier Illarramendi and Liam Fraser in MF as Paxton Pomykal is questionable. Dante Sealy at left wingback and Herbert Endeley at right wingback. The three CBs are obvious, as is Maarten Paes in net.

3rd Degree’s XI Prediction for FC Dallas on Opening Day Vs San Jose

Bench Prediction
Jimmy Maurer
Eugene Ansah
Omar Gonzalez
Bernie Kamungo
Nolan Norris
Tomas Pondeca
Ema Twumasi
Patrickson Delgado
Jesus Ferreira or Paxton Pomykal, maybe.

MLS Kit Assignments

MLS Kit assignments for Opening Day 24 FCD vs SJ (Courtesy MLS)
MLS Kit assignments for Opening Day 24 FCD vs SJ (Courtesy MLS)

Green keeper kit? Boo. We like the black one.

Officials

New policy during the lockout, referees will be announced on the day of the game.

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More Game Info

  • FCD vs. SJ all-time: 21-29-22 (87 goals scored, 109 goals conceded)
  • FCD vs. SJ home: 13-12-10 (45 goals scored, 47 goals conceded)

San Jose head coach Luchi Gonzalez was the FC Dallas head coach from 2018-21.

In 2023, FC Dallas Homegrowns (Edwin Cerrillo, Jesús Ferreira, Paxton Pomykal, Collin Smith, Nolan Norris, Tarik Scott, Dante Sealy) played a total of 5,978 minutes and made 92 appearances.

Nico Estevez‘s .574 winning percentage is the second-highest among the nine FC Dallas head coaches (No. 1, Oscar Pareja – .585)

FC Dallas has taken on San Jose three times on opening day. Dallas defeated the Earthquakes twice and lost once.

Quakes midfielder Carlos Gruezo played for FC Dallas from 2016 to 2019.

First, game, there aren’t a lot of notes.

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