Friday, March 30, 2012

Gov. Perry: Tejano Monument Reflects Longtime Contributions of Hispanics to Our Great State

AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today attended the dedication of a new
monument on the Texas State Capitol grounds honoring Hispanic
contributions to Texas History. The Tejano Monument is located on the south

“This important monument reflects a larger truth about the origins of Texas,
about the contributions of so many Hispanic citizens to the creation of the
state we love and the lives we share,” Gov. Perry said. “These contributions
are ongoing with Latinos providing political, business and spiritual leadership
in communities throughout Texas. The future of our state is tied directly to
the future of our Hispanic population, and I believe we have a glorious future
ahead of us.”

The Tejano Monument was created by Laredo artist Armando Hinojosa and
consists of 11 life-size sculptures commemorating the 500-year role of
Tejanos in Texas and the Spanish-Mexican legacy in the state from 1500 to
Work on placing a Tejano Monument at the State Capitol began in 2001,
when legislators passed and Gov. Perry signed legislation establishing it. In
2007, the Legislature approved $1.087 million for completion of the
monument and an additional $1 million was raised through private donations.

Early Spanish and Mexican pioneers and their descendants have helped shape
the way of life in Texas, dating back to the 1500s. Today, some of our state’s
top Hispanic leaders include Secretary of State Hope Andrade; Texas Court
of Criminal Appeals Justice Elsa Alcala; Supreme Court Justice Eva
Guzman; Chancellor of the UT System Francisco Cigarroa; Austin Diocese
Bishop Joe Vasquez; and Presiding Officer at the Texas Alcoholic Beverage
Commission Jose Cuevas, just to name a few.

For more information about the Tejano monument, please visit

Friday, March 9, 2012

State Representative candidate Miriam Martinez

McALLEN, March 8 - Former TV reporter Miriam Martinez is switching parties and will now run as a Republican in Texas House District 41.
Martinez told the Guardian on Thursday evening that she was quitting the Democrats because of the “threats” she had received for switching from Texas House District 40, which she originally filed in, to District 41.

“Bobby Guerra is the anointed one in District 41 and no one is allowed to run against him in the Democratic primary,” Martinez said. “Yesterday I confronted several people in the Democratic Party about their endorsements of Mr. Guerra and I was disturbed by what I heard. Today, I was contacted by my treasurer, telling me he was under a lot of pressure because of Dolly. The Democrats have cherry picked a candidate and it is not me,” Martinez said.

The “Dolly” Martinez is referring to is Dolly Elizondo, chair of the Hidalgo County Democratic Party. Elizondo said Martinez is making baseless accusations.

“She needs to find another excuse because that is totally false. Intimidation, I have never heard of such a thing. We do not run our party that way at all,” Elizondo said.

Elizondo did say she had spoken with Martinez on Wednesday about her bid to win District 41. “She called me yesterday and was angry that Veronica and I were supporting Bobby. I have not endorsed Bobby. She then made some comments about the party rules being broken and things like that but she never mentioned anything about leaving the party. She never mentioned anything about being intimidated or anything like that.”

State Rep. Veronica Gonzales, D-McAllen, is not running for re-election in District 41. She has endorsed McAllen attorney R.D. “Bobby” Guerra as her successor.

“I felt saddened that there is no transparency and openness in the Democratic Party in Hidalgo County and I want to see change. I want to see an open platform. This is why I have decided to switch to the Republicans,” Martinez told the Guardian.

Martinez said some of the credit for her switching parties must go to former state Rep. Bob Hunter, R-Abilene. Martinez has got to know Hunter over the past few months due to her connections with Abilene Christian University. 

“Bob Hunter is a very distinguished gentleman who has been in the political arena for more than 20 years. I opened up to him and told him I was going through some tough times. I told him I just want to run and make a difference,” Martinez said.

Martinez said she broke the news to her staff on Thursday. “I told them this was a difficult battle and that I do not see any support from the Democratic establishment. It is very disturbing when I hear reports of people being told they will have their doors closed if they do not do as they are told to do,” Martinez said.

Asked if she had heard of any other Democrats who had wanted to run in District 41 but who had been persuaded not to, Martinez offered two names. “Abraham Padron, T.C. Betancourt. There is a reason they are not running. They have been pressured,” Martinez said.

Martinez said she has been told that Gov. Rick Perry and House Speaker Joe Straus will welcome her into the Republican ranks with open arms. “Bob Hunter tells me this will be huge. He said I can represent the people in a way no one else has, because I am for the public,” Martinez said.

Elizondo said it is Martinez’s prerogative to run in any party she feels comfortable in.

“Isn’t this like the fourth time she has switched? It is the fourth time she is going to switch to something. She told Annie’s List she was running in District 35. She was all set to run for 35 and at the signing she was supposed to announce for 35 and she switched to 40. Then, this week, she switched to 41,” Elizondo said. “I do not have any comment other than she seems to need to start to run for somewhere. She needs to run on her merits.”

Elizondo said she has not endorsed Guerra or any other Democrat in a primary election. “Bobby was the only Democrat in the 41 race and being the only Democrat in the race he had garnered a lot of support from the community, from the elected officials, from everyone. Miriam came in a few days ago. I do not know why she felt intimidated. I do not know who she talked to. In the conversation I had with her she was very angry. I think she had seen a picture of Bobby and I and Veronica on filing day. But I take pictures with every candidate. That’s my job. Out of courtesy to all the candidates I have never endorsed anyone in the primary, I have never taken sides for one Democrat over another and I never will,” Elizondo said.

Elizondo said Martinez did have a meeting with Rep. Gonzales on Thursday morning. “From what I have heard it was very positive.”

District 41 has been the center of attention among Texas House seats for some time. Late last year, Rep. Gonzales, who had been drawn into District 40 under the legislative-drawn map, announced she would not re-election. State Rep. Aaron Peña, R-Edinburg, who currently represents District 40, had been drawn into District 41 under the map drawn by the Republican-dominated legislature.

However, this map was challenged in the courts, with District 41 identified by plaintiffs as one of a handful of House seats that violated the Voting Rights Act. In a compromise map agreed to by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force, the boundary lines for District 41 were changed again and it moved from being Republican-leaning - under the legislative-drawn map - to Democrat-leaning, under the new interim map issued by a federal panel in San Antonio late last month. When this happened, Peña said he would definitely not be running.

By Steve Taylor
Rio Grande Guardian

Thursday, March 8, 2012

State Representative Raul Torres, R-Nueces, today filed his apllication to run for State Senate District 20, currently held by Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D


Raul Torres Campaign
AUSTIN, TEXAS, 8 Mar 2012
State Representative Raul Torres, R-Nueces, today filed his apllication to run for State Senate District 20, currently held by Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen. Senate District 20 stretches from Nueces to Hidalgo and also includes Brooks as well and Jim Wells counties.

"Today, I filed to run for State Senate District 20 to make sure the hard working families of South Texas and the Coastal Bend have their voice heard in the State Senate," said Torres after submitting his application to appear on the Republican Primary ballot.

Torres' Senate campaign along with Representative J. M. Lozano's switch to the Republican Party indicates that Hispanics are a growing force within the Republican Party. Torres added, "Hispanics will decide the upcoming election and their growing numbers in the Republican Party reflect our shared values
and desire to secure a better future for all our families. It's also why I'm proud to have been endorsed by the Hispanic Republicans of Texas, a group dedicated to making sure Hispanic Republican candidates and elected officials are successful, giving them a real voice in the Party."

"I'm encouraged and humbled by the support I've received from Democrats, Republicans and Independents to run for Senate District 20. They support my plan to create jobs, improve our children's schools, end waste in government and stop higher taxes," commented Torres.

Raul Torres currently represents House District 33 in Nueces County. "This election is about ensuring the voice of the people is heard in Austin and its about returning the government back to the people," said Torres.

Welcome Representative Lozano To The Republican Party

Texas Democrats fail to deter another party switcher
by Pratt on Texas

On Monday I reported on Pratt on Texas, from the Rio Grande Gardian, that Kingsville state representative, J.M. Lozano, planned to leave the Democrat Party and run in the Republican Primary for re-election to the state house seat he currently holds. George P. Bush and others are credited with smoothing the way for Lozano who describes his voting record as conservative and “pro-life, pro-oil and gas, and pro-small-business.”

The small business owner told the Texas Tribune that his values are in-line with the Republican Party and the voters in his district. Lozano is a Texan and American by choice, he was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico and became a U.S. citizen in 1986.
He told the Tribune that his attempt to take the Democrats in the direction of small-business interests was “fruitless.”
“Lozano will be the third Democrat to switch parties [recently], after Allan Ritter of Nederland, and Rep. Aaron Peña of Edinburg, switched in late 2010. Like Peña’s switch, however, Lozano’s decision is sure to cause a stir given the Latino legislator represents a portion of the Texas border traditionally known as a Democratic stronghold,” reported the Texas Tribune.

This can be nothing but crushing news to Texas Democrats because it is clear that they did everything in their power set an example with Rep. Aaron Peña by working to destroy his political career. Democrats once again have shown that it’s all about Party and ideology, not power for minorities as they claim.

Just like their efforts at the ballot box of late, the attempt to deter didn’t work. Welcome Representative Lozano.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Speculation Of A New Member Joining HRC

South Texas Legislator Could Join List of Democrats
Who've Turned Republican in District Tailored for GOP

Republicans Says Freshman Democrat Could Be on Verge of Party Switch
in Wake of Court Alterations that Give GOP Slight Edge in Coastal District

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor

South Texas Republicans are speculating that the GOP could pick up a state House seat within the next week if a Democratic incumbent switches parties as some say he might be prepared to do in a district that no longer has a majority of voters who are Democrats.

Key Republicans say that Democratic State Rep. J.M. Lozano began making calls about a possible partisan conversion this week after a federal court redesigned House District 43 into a seat that the GOP thinks it has a good chance to win at the polls this year.

But James Aldrete, who's been Lozano's chief campaign consultant as the leader of the Austin-based firm Message Audience & Presentation, told Capitol Inside on Saturday morning that the lawmaker hasn't mentioned anything about a possible party switch in conversations they've had since the court made the new map public on Tuesday.

Aldrete - the leading Democratic strategist in Texas in races in heavily Hispanic areas - acknowledged that the HD 43 race would be competitive as a result of the court changes. But Aldrete also suggested that Lozano could face potential problems as a Republican candidate that he wouldn't encounter as a Democrat.

Despite a lack of any advance warning, one Republican has already entered the HD 43 race and at least one other GOP loyalist is seriously considering a bid for the seat in a primary election that will be held less than 13 weeks from now. Portland architect Bill T. Wilson III filed Friday as a candidate for Lozano's seat - and Beeville oil firm owner Clark Welder has indicated that he may be running in the Republican primary in HD 43 as well.

There's been speculation that Republican State Rep. Raul Torres of Corpus Christi might consider moving across the bay to San Patricio County so he could seek a second term in HD 43. Torres' district was dismantled by the court in a move that left him paired with Republican State Rep. Connie Scott of Corpus Christi in a district that leans slightly Democratic on the new map.

But some Republicans in the Corpus Christi area say that Torres might opt to challenge Democratic State Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa of McAllen instead of running for a new term in tne House in Scott's current district. Former Texas House Democrat Abel Herrero plans to push forward with a bid to unseat Scott in a rematch two years after she knocked him out of the lower chamber.

But former state House member Solomon Ortiz Jr. apparently has decided against a comeback bid in 2012 after losing two years ago to Torres. Ortiz, a former Nueces County Democratic chairman whose father had a long career in Congress until falling short in his re-election bid as well in 2010, had filed to run against Torres before the federal court eliminated the district they've both represented.

Lozano - a freshman lawmaker who ousted an embattled incumbet in the Democratic primary election two years ago - had moved from Kingsville to Alice after the same three-judge panel in San Antonio removed his former home base of Kleberg County from HD 43 and replaced it with Jim Wells County on the initial map that it drew for the lower chamber last fall.

The Legislature last year had drawn Lozano's district in a way that would have made it slightly more Democratic than it is now - but HD 43 emerged on the first court plan as more of a swing seat that the incumbent would still have been favored to win after relocating his residence so he could run there again.

But the San Antonio court - in arguably the biggest surprise move on the interim legislative and congressional maps that it issued five days ago - reconfigured HD 43 as a district with a slight GOP tilt by chopping off a strip of South Texas that reached into Cameron County and adding San Patricio and Bee counties in its place.

While Democrats will expect to register several net gains this fall on the House map that's being put in place for the May 29 primary election, they'd be starting out in a deeper hole than they are now in a chamber where the GOP has a 101-49 edge if Lozano decides to file to run for re-election as a Republican.

Candidates and potential contenders for the Legislature and Congress have six more days to revise campaign applications or to submit them if they haven't already filed in the initial filing period last year. The deadline for filing or altering applications is Friday at 6 p.m.

Lozano, who owns several restaurants in South Texas, would become the second South Texas legislator in the past 15 months to jump from the Democratic Party to the GOP if he decides to make the move. State Rep. Aaron Peña of Edinburg switched to the Republican Party a month after winning a fifth term as a Democrat in 2010. But the court in San Antonio rejected a move by Republican lawmakers to protect Peña and left him in a district where he would appear to have no chance to win on the GOP ticket.

The newly-designed version of HD 43 appears more ripe for a Republican takeover on the new court map than any of the other House districts where Democrats currently hold seats. Voters backed Republicans between 51 percent and 54 percent of the time in statewide races in recent years based on several different methods for measuring partisan voting trends. But almost 60 percent of the voting age population in the new HD 43 is Hispanic - and the ideal candidate on paper as a result could be a Hispanic Republican.

A significant number of Lozano's current constituents live in a swath of the Rio Grande Valley that includes South Padre Island. But Lozano has been viewed as a relatively independent lawmaker with a voting record that was more conservative than some of his colleagues in an area that's the last remaining Democratic stronghold in Texas outside El Paso and parts of major urban areas with high concentrations of Hispanics and African-Americans.

The list of former Texas House Democrats who are serving now as Republicans includes State Reps. Chuck Hopson of Jacksonville and Allan Ritter of Nederland. But Ritter and Hopson represent East Texas districts where they probably couldn't have survived a GOP tidal wave that swept Republicans to their first House supermajority in 2010 and victories in races for every seat that had been held by Democrats in rural areas.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A South Texas Pastor Running As a Republican in Democratic Stronghold

Pastor Putting Movement to Unique Test with Campaign for the Texas House
in Southern Section of State that's Dominated by Hispanics and Democrats

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor

A South Texas pastor who founded the first Hispanic Tea Party chapter hopes to do what no Republican has done in more than two decades with a victory in a race for the Texas House in the Rio Grande Valley this year.

Armando Vera - a naturalized U.S. citizen who immigrated from Mexico - has filed to run for the House District 41 seat that Democratic State Rep. Veronica Gonzales of McAllen isn't seeking again after four terms in the Legislature.

But Vera faces a steep uphill climb in his debut as a candidate in a race that Democrat Bobby Guerra is the early favorite to win barring a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Texas redistricting case that shakes up the lineups on the House battlefield in the state's southern tip. Guerra's most significant threat could come from within his own party if McAllen insurance company owner Abraham Padron enters the HD 41 race as he's suggested he might do before the February 1 filing deadline.

A Mission attorney who chaired the Hidalgo County Democratic Party for two years, Guerra had initially planned to challenge Republican State Rep. Aaron Peña of Edinburg in his first re-election race since switching parties in late 2010. But Peña cancelled his plans to seek a sixth term after a three-judge federal panel in San Antonio redrew the House map that the Legislature had approved last year with a district that had been tailored for him.

The election plan that emerged from the regular session last spring essentially shifted Gonzales into the heavily-Democratic district that Peña has represented since 2003 while moving him into a section of Hidalgo County where she's been the representative for the past seven years.

HD 41 is the only House district in Hidalgo and Cameron counties where Democratic voters don't outnumber their Republican counterparts overwhelmingly. About 51 percent of the voters had supported the GOP's statewide slates in the last two elections in the version of HD 41 that Republican leaders and legislators had fashioned with Peña's protection as a priority. The share of the HD 41 vote that Democrats received in 2008 and 2010 jumped two percentage points on the map that the federal court drafted as a replacement plan when the state failed to have the Legislature's proposal precleared in time for the 2012 primary elections.

Peña would have the option of resurrecting his campaign if the Supreme Court overturns the lower court plan and orders the state to hold the elections this year on a map that more closely resembles the one that the GOP-controlled Legislature adopted. Vera at that point might reassess his candidacy and determine whether he'd still want to run if it meant squaring off with a well-known incumbent who could expect substantial help from the GOP establishment across the state.

The Democratic machinery in South Texas has sought to clear the path for Guerra, a member of a family that's been a major force in local politics for several generations. Padron, who lived across the Rio Grande in Reynosa, Mexico before moving with his family to Texas as a child, would have the ability to tap a substantial sum of personal money he's made selling insurance on a race for the House if he runs.

Vera has been in the news off and on since last summer when he organized a Tea Party group for people like himself whose English is sketchy if they don't speak Spanish exclusively. Vera took the lead in the formation of the Hispanic Tea Party with encouragement from McAllen Tea Party leaders who'd had minimal success in attempts to court potential support from conservatives who had trouble communicating in English. But the Tea Party chapter that Vera established is unique in that its members are mostly Mexican natives who are new U.S. citizens and more devoted to deep religious beliefs than political goals and objectives.

Peña contended when he switched parties that South Texas Hispanics were by and large conservative and would be more inclined to support Hispanic Republicans if they had viable choices in a part of the state where contested GOP primaries have been rare.

With HD 41 voters split fairly evenly in statewide races, GOP leaders and strategists thought they'd have an opportunity to beat Gonzales in a district where the number of Republicans appeared to be on a steady rise. But Gonzales fended off GOP challengers with 57 percent of the vote in 2008 and 65 percent in 2010 - and she appeared to be on track for another relatively easy re-election victory on the Legislature's map despite her vigorous opposition to it as a result of the district swap with Peña that Republicans were forcing on her.

But Gonzales pulled the plug on her campaign after the San Antonio court reshuffled the lines in a way that put her back in the district where Guerra had already launched his campaign with her support.

Republican Ken Fleureit of Harlingen broke the Democrats' lock on House seats in the Rio Grande Valley when he defeated a Democratic foe in a battle for an open post in Cameron County in 1990. But Fleureit was unseated two years later by a Democrat in his first re-election campaign.

Peña, who won five terms as a Democrat, became the RGV's first Republican lawmaker since Fleureit when he changed teams a month after the election 13 months ago.