Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Factionalism in a Post Norma Chavez El Paso
The defeat of State Rep Norma Chavez at the hands of State Rep Elect Naomi Gonzalez signaled not only the end of Chavez’s political career, but may have also seen the end of what we normally identify as the political factions.
Without the figurehead, the Chavez faction is basically now a disorganized collection of elected officials in the valley that have common political rivals.
There were two major weaknesses to the Chavez faction. One was Chavez inability to get along with many people in positions of power, but the other weakness was that the faction was geographically isolated. It lived for the most part, only in the valley.Chavez was never able to expand outside the valley, which is one of the reasons she chose not to run for senate.
Chavez turned the election campaign into a discussion about who was the real Democrat in the race. Chavez hammered Gonzalez for being the puppet of the TLR (Texans for Lawsuit Reform). Chavez was backed by the TTLA (Texas Trial Lawyers Association). Sources in Austin tell me that there was a deal made that the TTLA would back Chavez if she stayed out of the state senate race.
Chavez talked about having the support of all the delegation except State Rep Marissa Marquez and Senator Shapleigh, but other than State Rep Joe Moody, the rest of the delegation was largely absent from the Chavez campaign. State Reps Quintanilla and Pickett kept so much distance from the race that they were almost forgotten.
I’ve heard talk from more than one source that says Chavez is still contemplating a political future, possibly running for Congress one day. That would be a tall order. I would normally say it’s impossible, but I’m the same guy who used to say that Chavez was bullet-proof in the valley, and had to eat my words. I’ve learned my lesson about speaking in absolutes in El Paso’s political world.
The truth is she probably will run for something else again. El Paso is filled with stories of politicos that are perpetual candidates.
But after the scorched earth campaign she and Gonzalez ran, its doubtful voters will ever give Chavez serious consideration again. The internal structure of her campaign collapsed in the waning days of the election and those relationships need to be rebuilt before Chavez entertains ANY ideas about running for another office.
The faction war was clearly won by Team Shapleigh. And yes, the faction war is over. The saddest thing around is the army that doesn’t know they’ve been beat. So the question now is will the remnants of the Chavez faction be folded in to another faction, perhaps Congressman Reyes’ faction?
Will they evolve in to another form of a faction?
Or will another group of future leaders emerge to be the voice of working people in El Paso, independent of the constraints of a faction or a figurehead, but possessing the numbers, intellect, and passion to be a force to be reckoned with?
Posted by The Lion Star at 6:00 AM