Former State Rep Norma Chavez is running for congress, which you undoubtedly know by now. So lets talk about the implications of a Chavez candidacy.
She suffered the worst self-inflicted political wound in history and it led to her ouster from local politics. No one should feel sorry for her about that either. No one forced her to make bigoted comments about her opponent.
The fact that she still has the audacity to compare someone's sexuality with being a biker shows that she really hasn't learned anything. A person's sexuality is how they are oriented and should never be equated with a leisure activity like being a biker. Thats just flat-out ignorant.
I knew she would say that it was taken out of context. Well there is no context in the world that would justify that kind of blatant attack.
Its also not the only time she raise her opponent's sexuality.
But in that video, I showed all the context of what transpired and it was called "GBU" for a reason.
The good, the bad, and the ugly.
So lets talk about the Chavez campaign - the good, the bad, and the ugly.
When Norma Chavez says she's the most qualified and most experienced candidate in the field of congressional candidates, she's not wrong. No other candidate has legislated. Escobar to a far greater extend than Fenenbock, and with bigger consequences, has policy experience.
But both Escobar's and Fenenbock's policy experience is a different dynamic. Its being the top official on a small board.
Chavez is the only candidate that knows what its like to be in a legislative environment. She's the only one that has experience in navigating that process. She is the only one with experience dealing with party dynamics. She knows what its like to author, sponsor, and guide a bill through the legislative process.
And her press release properly points out the fact that she has that experience that no one else running can match:
Norma Chavez was an accomplished legislator and El Paso woman of many of firsts:
- First Latina/Hispanic female elected to the Texas Legislature from El Paso
- First Latina/Hispanic female from El Paso to serve as a Chair of a standing committee in the Texas House of Representative, (Chair, Border & International Affairs Committee)
- First Latina/Hispanic female from El Paso to serve on Appropriations
- First and only Latina/Hispanic female in Texas to serve as Vice Chair of the Calendars Committee, the committee that determines what bills are considered on the House Floor, and a Speaker Appointment Committee
- First Latina/Hispanic female from El Paso to serve as Vice-Chair of Human Resources, and Rules and Resolutions
She ran against the woman that ousted her and was able to beat her to make a run-off election to face the now-House District 76 State Representative Cesar Blanco. And honestly, if there was ever a state representative that deserved the title "The People's Rep", its Cesar Blanco.
Chavez was trounced by Blanco and solidly rejected by voters that once supported her so strongly she was called bullet-proof.
But she beat Gonzalez and that was the vindication she was looking for.
There's also a lot of great things Chavez has done that were away from the cameras and out of the goodness of her heart. When the women from Mujer Obrera were having a hard time, she gave them the dignity of work. I saw it with my own eyes. She gave women a means to earn some money. I sat there and watched her pull out a checkbook after a tardeada for her campaign and pay a line of women who had staffed the event. They needed that money for their families and Norma was there to help.
And now, like many of us, she helps care for her parents. Not an easy or glamorous job but something that many in our culture do.
She was also really great at fostering young talent. Norma collected all of (us) the misfits that the old guard didn't want around. She mentored people and put them to work.
Chavez spoke to keeping her candidacy focused on issues when she filed, which was a surprise to many and will require a lot of self discipline.
Yet again, Norma Chavez has to start a campaign with an apology. When you have to do that, that is sign number one you shouldn't be running.
Sadly for every good story about Norma Chavez, there are 10 stories about her temper, her inability to get along with people, her blind rage and complete lack of emotional control.
For every person that she helped, gave a hand to, uplifted, or provided assistance to, there were 10 other people she berated, belittled, yelled at, or humiliated.
There were several big legislative wins, and trust me you only need to hear Chavez talk for about 1 minute before she starts reminding everyone about all the things she did that she doesn't think she got enough credit for, but there were also some big losses.
I have been told by legislators, not their staff, flunkies or supporters, but actual legislators - that they didn't vote for the gaming bills she sponsored because she was the one who was carrying the bill. She'll go to her grave calling that fake news, but they told me that themselves.
So had any other member of the delegation carried the bill, it would've passed and the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo would have had a robust gaming operation for many years.
Instead she refused to let anyone else help with that bill. She refused to let anyone else have the ability to pass it lest the credit not go to her.
But then has the AUDACITY to take a campaign contribution from a tribe from Oklahoma who wanted to kill gaming in Texas because it meant people in North Texas would go to their casinos instead.
And Chavez's defense? Well everyone else does it, why shouldn't I?
She was asked at her filing event about her reputation for feuding with people and she attempted to rewrite history with a narrative worthy of an episode of Fantasy Island. She said you don't get to chair this committee, or be on that committee, or do this or that, if you can't get along with people.
You get on committees based on seniority, guile, and your ability to strong-arm people on the fence.
You also don't get nearly every single elected official in the county working against you to help your opponent if you get along with people.
And what Chavez fails to understand the most, is that none of that damage she has done goes away because she went on an apology tour.
People might forgive, but they don't forget. And trust me from personal experience, the woman has done things to people personally that even if they forgive her, they will always remember them.
Now this surprise announcement has left her candidates like Ruben Nuñez and Patsy Patiño hanging and candidates aren't happy about it.
"Lesbian gay woman." "U R not my friend." She will forever be haunted by those words.
Especially the lesbian gay woman thing.
It was the most unnecessary and petty attack ever unleashed on an opponent. But more than that, it was an eye-opening experience at the kind of person Chavez was. It was win at all cost for her. She demonstrated there was nothing she wouldn't say in order to keep the seat.
It is a low point in El Paso politics that is on par with the Gandaras all going to jail for public corruption or drug-running.
Then in the immediate aftermath of her loss, Chavez went through a very dark period of her life where she was vile and vindictive to anyone she felt harmed her, and to some people that never did a damn thing to her. She began insulting people terribly, like making fun of Congressman O'Rourke and often referring him to Bay-toe O'Rourke and even County Commissioner Vince Perez who never did anything to her.
That is why she had to go on an apology tour eventually and try to make amends with a whole lot of people.
When then-State Rep Naomi Gonzalez got a DUI, Norma Chavez did something that many in the valley will never forget. She cut in front of line out of a sense of entitlement to run for her seat again. City Rep Eddie Holguin, who had always ridden shotgun for Chavez, was next in line to run for that seat. But Norma cut in front of him. She felt what she wanted was more important.
Trust me, Eddie Holguin wouldn't have to struggle to get 2,000 votes.
That is how she repays his loyalty, by cutting in front of him. And it doesn't stop there, even as recently as a couple of months ago when Dolores Huerta was here Norma did was makes us all in political circles say all-too-regularly, "its Norma being Norma". They also say that about Donald Trump, which is funny to me. Anywho, she made sure she could soak up as much praise as she could for Dolores being in town.
Truth is, Eddie Holguin did the heavy lifting. But you don't hear about Eddie asking for credit, jumping in front of every camera he can, or trying to limit access to Dolores when she was here.
And thats how she treats her most loyal supporter! I was there the night Norma lost her seat. Eddie Holguin cried. That is how loyal of a friend and supporter he was, and she's shat on him regularly.
Lets wrap this up with some analysis.
Several years ago when Shapleigh retired, there was a poll that was done. Norma didn't do well in that poll and that is why she didn't run for the seat and instead ran for reelection. That poll showed she didn't do well outside of HD 76.
Well guess what? She hasn't gotten more popular since that poll. The only way Chavez gets popular enough to be a factor in the congressional race is if she jumps in front of a bullet meant for the Pope or if Khalid does a duo with her on his next album.
Possibly if she took over Miner football and led them to a bowl game.
The bottom line is that the last time Chavez was on the ballot she struggled to get 2,000 people to go and cast a vote for her.
And what has changed since then? Well she now has none of her old loyal lieutenants, the people that would relentlessly knock on doors for her and put up with her shit.
She has no where near the access to money that she did at one point. She's gonna run around using words like "grassroots" which is code for "broke".
I don't even understand where she's going to get the money to pay the boys at Leo Marketing who are now along for the ride because they chose to jump on that ship. They will now be defined on how this election turns out, which isn't likely to be good.
Chavez's announcement took everyone by surprise - mostly because they couldn't see a scenario where even Norma could believe she is viable. I can tell you with 100% certainty that people like Eddie Holguin, who was the only elected official in the county that stood by her through the dark times, didn't even know. I'm the one who told them about her running. They didn't believe me.
They thought I was making a bad joke. It wasn't until I had a press release in my hand that anyone (myself included) believed it.
So that begged the question, who was behind this? Many believe this is a coordinated effort by Chavez to help Fenenbock's candidacy. But after having time to sleep on it, some of us are starting to change our minds.
While we don't put it past Fenenbock to try do something like that, Norma isn't one that would allow herself to be used.
But seeing Fenenbock's glowing praise for Norma in the media certainly makes you think. Especially because the people that are helping Norma's campaign are Hector Montes and Stephanie Townsend Allala.
Montes in particular is known for his hatred of Escobar. He's still at AFSCME so 3 guesses who isn't getting their endorsement...
The STA/Hector Montes team are making calls trying to drum up support for Chavez's campaign.
The bottom line is that this isn't really complicated. There are two types of voters in this election - those that want Escobar to win and those that want her to lose. There is nothing about Norma Chavez that bites into Escobar's base. They couldn't be more different if they tried.
Chavez further divides the anti-Escobar crowd. That is the bottom line.
She gives Chicanos that don't like Escobar someone to vote for that can't bring themselves to vote for a rich, white, Republican like Fenenbock. So in the irony of all ironies, she ends up hurting Fenenbock more than Escobar.
Supporters will say she has name ID and she's Chicana and that will make her a factor. Well just because they know your name, doesn't mean its a good thing. She hasn't gotten more popular since that senatorial poll.
She's not going to have anywhere near the money necessary to pay staff, get enough mail out, signs, walkers, lit, etc that the real congressional candidates are doing. She has far less time and none of the field talent so she's not even going to reach that many doors.
But, remember earlier when I said she was making fun of Congressman O'Rourke's name by referring to him as Bay-toe?
Well the self-described Chicana should be the first person pushing back against Fenenbock's repeated cultural appropriation. I actually can't wait to see Fenenbock try a Si Se Puede chant now. Chavez will either put an end to that shit in a strong and abrupt way, or she will be silent on it.
Either reaction will be interesting.
And lets be real, Fenenbock loves cultural appropriation and has gotten so used to it that I don't think she can stop if she wanted to. I half expected her to be in front of the Virgen de Guadalupe mural yesterday offering roses and dressed like a matachin with a bunch of staffers around her taking pictures of her drinking champurrado from a street vendor last night.
But I heard she was at the Democratic Party holiday event last night instead, so then I thought she might be holding a guitar sitting on a stool with some black shades singing Feliz Navidad like Jose Feliciano himself.
Wonder if Fenenbock will still brag about beating "Hispanic" candidates now and if Chavez will actually call her out on it?
Chavez thinks there's no reason she should "sit this election out" because women across the country are deciding to run for office. The fact that there are already two in the congressional race and she still makes that argument for getting into the race shows that Norma is still Norma and its still all about her.
She still thinks things are owed to her. She says this is her last at-bat.
No, the last election was her last at-bat. She defeated a rival, made the run-off and had a moral victory. She re-won a claim to a legacy.
But she struggled to get 30% of the vote. She won't get anywhere near that amount now. She will likely place 4th behind Enrique Garcia and slightly ahead of Carrillo or Tilghman, which ever ends up running 5th.
Frankly, I'm not buying the "New Norma" thing anymore. This is the most Norma thing ever. Its very old Norma. So its a matter of time because she starts trying to take out chunks of flesh from Escobar, especially because that is Norma's comfort zone.
Sooner or later, Norma's temper is going to kick in and she'll regress back to the Norma everyone knows. Expect the "New Norma" to last until the first time she gets hit by someone, and then its back to a political food fight.
And that is why I use the analogy of an old prize fighter. Ali, Leonard, Chavez, De La Hoya, Hopkins, Frasier, Foreman, Pac-Man; pick your comparison. They all have one thing in common. They stayed around when they should have retired. Their once great record was tarnished by getting knocked out, out-classed, or quitting on the stool.
Why did they always do that? Why has it happened so many times that it is now a cliche?
In Latin its called superbia.
She is sacrificing a hard-fought legacy she could be proud of because her own pride can't be controlled.
And that it is why its one of the Seven Deadly Sins.
The Path to Victory
There is none. She's not a viable candidate.