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