Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tigua Election Tonight

The Tiguas will choose a Governor tonight.

They gather at the Tusla and will be checked for electronic devices.

Only adult males are eligible to vote.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Rumor Killer: Mayor Cook Not Resigning

There was a piece in El Diaro de El Paso that reported that Mayor Cook was resigning from office. Here is a link to the piece.

I contacted Mayor Cook to see if this was the case and he said, "No, I'm not resigning. I'm gonna beat this recall."

Mayor Cook also indicated that he did not even have a press conference yesterday. I checked all the major media outlets in El Paso and none of them had a related story on their websites.

Mayor Cook expressed surprise at a story that inaccurate would be coming El Diario and said he'd always had a good relationship with the publication.

So far, I can't see where this information came from and the piece goes so far as to even quote the Mayor. When contacted to verify the quote, the Mayor laughed about the part about spending more time with his music, and said indicated that he never said that.

Turns out there is a very good reason why.

It was part of the Mexican version of April Fool's Day. Its día de los Santos Inocentes!

One of the best media hoaxes I can remember...


Announcement from Occupy El Paso

Occupy El Paso

19th Anniversary of NAFTA
19 years of corporate domination over the people of the United States and Mexico

What: Demonstration and teach-in at the foot of the Santa Fe Bridge, El Paso

When: Jan. 1, 2012, 3-4 PM
**Press Conference 3:15 PM

Who: Occupy El Paso and members of Occupy Las Cruces

Why: On Jan. 1, 1994, NAFTA went into effect. After 18 years of “free trade”
between the United States and Mexico, we have massive unemployment and
underemployment, and poverty and human suffering in both countries. Corporations
benefit while the 99% suffer.

The public is invited!

Press contact: Joe or Merlyn Heyman

Key points:

Who has benefitted? The corporate elite, the “1%,” of both Mexico and the US.
Who has lost? The workers, middle class, peasants (campesinos), and family farmers of
both Mexico and the US. The “99%.”

NAFTA provides for “freedom” of capital investment, ownership of property, and trade
in commodities. Freedom for the rich! It does not provide for human freedom to move.
It fails to promote autonomous, beneficial local development. Domination over the 99%!

Cross-border trade can be fair and just, but not under the NAFTA system. We need a
new North American treaty focused on human development.

For more information on Occupy El Paso and Occupy Las Cruces:

Announcement from Liza Montelongo Campaign


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Candidate Thumbnail: Aaron Barraza

Aaron Barraza is challenging State Rep Marisa Marquez for her seat in HD 77. Marquez famously defeated long-time State Rep Paul Moreno four years ago.

Barraza just moved back from Austin and was profiled in the El Paso Times recently. Barraza reached out to me and asked to meet with me so I could get to know him a little better. I agreed and I met with him, his campaign manager, and a couple of other people who were interested in vetting his candidacy.

Here's how it went (and I'm not telling you anything I didn't tell him):

First impressions - Barraza is 23 years old, which is young. And he doesn't even look 23, he looks younger. He's a good looking young man. He's somewhere between an Abercrombie & Finch model and Edward from Twilight. I think it was the hair that made me think of the Twilight reference.

So far, my first impression of him was the same as pretty much everyone else I know that has met him so far, which admittedly isn't very many. He comes across as such a nice young man. He is very polite. Great posture. Very respectful young man. Decent handshake. Clearly, he was raised right.

That will play very well with seniors, though his age will probably hurt him. Its not that El Paso doesn't elect young people. We do. In fact, at a pretty high rate. But not 23 1/2 years old young.

His family lives up on Rim Road, he went to Cathedral, and went to UT Austin. Clearly he is also a pretty intelligent young man. Frankly, I like the vato. No alarms went off when I met him.

He explained a few of the things in the El Paso Times piece like the resume issue. He said that it was Marquez's staffer who is a friend of his that helped him punch up his resume and he was the one who put in the objective statement that said Barraza was looking for a communications position. Barraza said he didn't even think Marquez has such a position with her office.

But he was very secretive about who his supporters were. I pressed him on it but he hunkered down. Which I found a little suspicious because there really isn't a reason to withhold names of supporters unless there is something bad about them. But he said there is a strategy so I take him at his word.

Pros - Barraza is hungry. He used the term "opportunity" 20+ times and that shows me he wants to win. I turned the heat up on him a couple of times just to see what he was made of and the one good thing about him when I turned up the heat was that he came across as tenacious.

He comes from a pretty well-to-do family, so I think he'll have some starter cash to get his race going.

His opponent has a group of entrenched politicos that would like nothing better than to get rid of her. There are also pockets of voters in the district that aren't happy with Marquez.

He has some limited experience with politics in Austin, which isn't much but is enough to give him a foundation.

From what he and his campaign manager said, there is a group of other young guys he went to school with that are going to help out with his campaign.

He's got guts. He proved that by contacting me after I had written a piece in which I called his candidacy a joke. At the end of the conversation he asked me what I thought about his chances. After I gave him my assessment, he was still very confident and said, "I look forward to proving you wrong".

I respect that.

Cons - Seems like he's in over his head. He needs to have a deeper understanding of the issues. He doesn't appear to have that right now. I asked about a few bills that were high-profile in the last session and he didn't appear to know too much about them. But he was honest about it, so that is a good thing.

But he also didn't know how many precincts were in his district, how many precinct chairs, or who his precinct chair is.

He has no poker face. That is bad in politics. When he doesn't know the answer, you can see it on his face before he says anything. When he is rattled, you can tell right away. Marquez will jump all over that and go in for the kill.

When I did turn up the heat, he was clearly uncomfortable. I really didn't put my foot on the gas either, just a little jab here and there. If he has trouble with that, I think Marquez is going to eat him alive in a debate scenario.

A lot of that stuff is fixable.

The unfamiliarity of the issues is the easiest fix. He can always hit the books and bone up on issues. The shaping and delivering of a message is also pretty easy to fix. So thats not a problem.

But there are other problems that are not so easy to fix. Chief among them is the inexperience of his campaign staff. If they are all school buddies, he's in trouble. His campaign manager's political experience has pretty much been holding signs and passing out campaign materials in a previous election. (BTW, he is also a smart guy, just inexperienced).No deep knowledge or experience with a ground game. That is essential in a district that is an easy district to walk like 77th.

He needs help. Real help. He needs a seasoned consultant or operative team. And he needs it right away.

He also needs the support of some of the Marquez-haters like the Moreno clan. They live in the district and could help him with fundraising.

Barraza has a future. If he stays in El Paso, he will be a big somebody some day. But I think its too early, I think his timing is off, I don't think he'll have the money to wage the war he's going to need to be able to wage, and I don't think he has the tools to take advantage of some of Marquez's weaknesses.

Marquez is sitting on a pile of money and hasn't really even started to fund raise. If Annie's List already dropped $20k to give a long-shot some seed money, I'm pretty sure that they will drop some cash to protect the seat of a female pro-choice Democrat if things start to tighten up.

So someday Barraza will be an elected official.

Just not this session. But give him 5-10 years and I think he'll do very well.

Tejano Leadership Shake-Up

Not only is their membership down under the new chair, Blanche Darley, but a lot of prominent elected officials are not going to renew their membership.

And if that wasn't bad enough, it looks like the Chair of the Tejano Dems is forcing out some leadership that aren't doing what she wants them to do. Sources in the Tejano Dems indicate that one of the Vice Presidents of the Tejanos, Jan Engels, was asked to resign as Vice President because she was supporting Mike Cervantes, who is a candidate for the 41st Court.

Apparently that didn't sit well with Darley, who is apparently spearheading support among the Tejanos for another candidate for the race. I doubt they are supporting County Commissioner Anna Perez, so I guess that leaves Dolores Reyes as the preferred Tejano candidate.

So, Engels was asked to resign.

For some reason, Tejanos really seem to focus on judicial races, which is weird because judges generally keep a low profile and they don't generally want to be associate with controversy and Tejano meetings are a controversy magnet. And Theresa Caballero, also a judicial candidate, who is famously critical of a lot of judges in town, has taken a more prominent role in Tejano meetings over the last year.


Carlos Leon to Enter Precinct 1 County Commish Race

One drops out, another wants in.

A day after one candidate dropped out of the race for County Commissioner in Precinct 1, another candidate is likely to throw his hat in the ring.

That is, if he can.

That all depends on the courts in San Antonio.

But Carlos Leon, former Chief of Police for El Paso is likely to file for candidacy when and if the courts open the filing window again.

Leon, who has recovered from a very bad accident not too long ago, has already filed a treasurer and will have Mayela Mejia as his campaign manager.

Mejia's name has come up several times in this race as a potential candidate and in connection as a potential supporter to Liza Montelongo and Ray Graham. Montelongo is a candidate for the seat and Graham was rumored to be a candidate as well, but may be more interested in running for city council for Ortega's seat when it becomes open again.

Leon's entrance in to the race is interesting because he is a wild card. He's a name people have heard before, but as a candidate he is undefined. He has experience with budgets, but there is really no record of position stances on issues or policy. It just not something that would've come up in his previous races. So the name ID is a good thing, but being undefined could be problematic.

I'm betting he'll do okay with fundraising, but I think he and fellow candidate Danny Anchondo will likely battle it out over support.

Montelongo is the only Latina in the race and Leon and Jaime Romo are the only two candidates in the race that haven't won an election yet.

Anchondo and Montelongo have the advantage of having been on a ballot before, and Montelongo is the only candidate that has a base of support that have elected her to office, within the actual precinct.

But Leon is the one who has been in the highest profile race of all the candidates in the field.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Strange Political Bedfellows Part 2

In a weird twist, SBOE Rep Charlie Garza, who is a Republican, has been shopping around HD 75 Democratic candidate Hector Enriquez to the teachers' union for support according to sources within the teachers' union.

Its weird for several reasons. #1 Garza is a Republican shopping around a Democrat. #2 Garza ran for that seat previously and got his ass kicked. #3. Garza, who was in administration, is shopping him to union people. That's the exact WRONG person to try to shop someone around. #4, Garza has an uneasy alliance right now with the Ysleta Teacher's union because of some issue involving alleged retaliation against his wife who was a librarian at one of the middle schools and so he has beef with YISD administration, but there is no way that YTA will go against the TSTA.

Apparently Garza allegedly got really upset because he wasn't allowed to be inside a grievance proceeding. One of those "Who dare they keep out the SBOE" sort of things...allegedly.

Garza, who won the seat on the SBOE two years ago, got his clock cleaned in El Paso, but since the rest of the district is decidedly Republican, he was able to win the seat and he famously held an investiture ceremony that had so much pomp and circumstance that it rivaled the recent Royal Wedding. 

Strange Political Bedfellows Part 1

Turns out there could be a rather interesting pairing of support for District 77 challenger Aaron Barraza. Barraza is taking on State Rep Marisa Marquez.

I interviewed Barraza yesterday and I will write about that conversation later today, but he acknowledged that he would be meeting with the Moreno clan in the near future. If you recall, Marquez defeated long-time state Rep Paul Moreno with strong assistance from then-State Rep Norma Chavez.

The Chavez-Moreno feud is the stuff of legend.

Well sources indicate that Barraza is meeting with Chavez today, although he did not indicate he would be meeting with her when I interviewed him yesterday.

It would be troublesome for Marquez if somehow the Morenos united with Chavez to take out Marquez. Which is possible, I guess, but not probable. The Morenos and Marquez were both supportive of Naomi Gonzalez in her bid to unseat Norma Chavez two years ago, which they accomplished.

Because Chavez was behind the over-throw of Moreno, and because the Moreno's were supportive of Chavez's over-throw it is very, very unlikely that they two will unite to take out Marquez.

I think they would both like to see her gone, but I think they dislike one-another too much to every cooperate.

This could get interesting though...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dora Elkabachi Drops Out of Precinct 1 Comish Race

Dora Elkabachi, candidate for the eastside seat on County Commissioner's Court being vacated by County Commissioner Anna Perez has decided to end her campaign for the seat today.

When reached, Elkabachi said, "...I will be withdrawing from the race this afternoon...I can no longer keep up with my campaign commitments because I found an honorable opportunity to work with the disenfranchised population of our community. I believe we were specifically given two hands in life: one to push our way through life and the other to pull someone through it. This is where I need to be at this moment in my life."

Elkabachi is currently working as a Facilitator at the Upper Rio Grande Workforce Solutions.

That leaves former YISD Trustee Liza Montelongo, El Paso County Democratic Chairman Danny Anchondo, and Jaime Romo in the race for the open county commissioner's seat.

New Poll: El Paso Ex Pats in Politics

We now have two candidates that have returned to El Paso so recently that, to borrow a phrase from Ma Haggerty a couple of years ago, you might have milk in your fridge that has been in El Paso longer than the two of them.

I checked my fridge and it turns out, I don't have anything that old. But I do have some meat in the freezer and almost everything in the pantry has been here longer than the two new young upstarts.

But they are both ex-patriots, so should that count against them that they moved back to El Paso to run for office, or should it be something in their favor?

Honestly, I'm a little torn. I see it both ways.

However, thinking about it made me wonder what you all think. So I posted a new poll (I know, it has been a while).

Could this be a start of a trend? Is this just a function of a golden opportunity?

Lots of things to consider with this one, so weigh in...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Embarrassing Candidate Bombshell

This town has had more than its share of embarrassing developments for campaigns.

In fact, we are almost known for how embarrassingly crappy the pool of candidates usually is in this town. We've had candidates that play dress-up (Jerome Tilghman), candidates that use props (Ben Mendoza), and a whole host of other embarrassing moments.

Like memmer the candidate that flashed people in the L&J and was on the most-wanted list...all in the same week?

We've had candidates that are likely mentally disturbed, candidates that take the bus to debates, candidates that wear chanclas, and candidates no one can understand...and I'm just talking about one particular candidate.

And then there's our local Republicans.

Not all of them, but most of them have been a motley crue of weirdos that don't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning anything. But at least they pull out a decent one every now and them.

Most of the time, its harmless but makes El Paso look like its full of a bunch of idiots.

And then there are the times where the conduct of candidates, in my opinion, actually damage the image of the city. Their conduct is so bad, so embarrassing, and so ridiculous, that it actually hurts how we look as a community.

I'm speaking of course, of the race for HD 76, between then-candidate Naomi Gonzalez and then-State Rep Norma Chavez. That race was, in which the conduct of both candidates was, in my opinion, an embarrassment to this community. It was topped off by the single most embarrassing political moment, again in my opinion, that this community has ever seen in a campaign...The Lesbian Gay Woman remark.

So things range from wacky to downright embarrassing to this community in campaigns in this town.

Well, if my sources are correct, and I have no reason to doubt them, we are about to witness another.

I don't know who the candidate is yet, but sources indicate that some very embarrassing and graphic pictures of a local candidate have surfaced. It is very likely that those photos will be made public in some fashion.

That's very bad not only for the candidate, and of course their family, but for the community. Its the type of story that goes viral on the internet and will follow someone for a long time. Especially in the days of the internet, were someone, a friend, a potential employer, a family member, or even a child etc can do a simple Google search and then...bam!

Bad pictures show up on their screen.

I don't know who the candidate is yet, and I haven't personally seen the photos either. But my sources have and its a source that has NEVER been wrong before. In fact, I wouldn't be writing this piece if I doubted my source or the information.

Let's hope there isn't more to follow.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Willie Gandara's New Year's Day Pachanga

Gandara New Years Party

Hey Aaron Barraza

Yo, sorry to post this here but I don't have any other way to contact you.I got your email but it doesn't work when I reply so you'll have to give me another address to respond to.

Twas the Night Before Christmas ... El Paso Political Version...

I'm not a poet. I'm really not that creative either.

But I've been telling myself for a long time that I need to do an El Paso political version of Twas the Night Before Christmas. It doesn't tell a story, because like I said, I'm not really good at it. Its more a collection of rhymes about elected officials and candidates. Some of it might not make sense unless you are a frequent reader or if you really politically dialed in.

If you are mentioned in this and get mad about it, its a sign you need to chill the hell out. Its only meant to be humor, so don't be a sour puss. That being said, I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to seek political asylum in Fabens, somewhere near the rooster. (That's two Fabens Rooster references in a week if you are keeping score).

Here we go...

'Twas the Night Before Christmas...Chuco Style

Twas the Night before Christmas and all through El Paso,
politicians were in trouble, elections were a hassle.
The ballots were hung in the voting booth with care,
In hopes that a decent candidate, soon would be there.

The voters were nestled all snug in the Valley;
Where corrupt politicians take bribes in the alley.
Vince Perez in suspenders and Chente at a Pachanga,
with a chola from Segundo, wearing baggy pants and a tonga.

When from Commissioner's Court there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the Lion's Den to see what was the matter.
Over to the internet I flew like a flash,
flipped open my laptop, and almost dropped my stash.

The big shots were huddled all around the newly-drawn maps,
“They're taking away Fort Bliss!” and El Pasoans yelled, “Oh crap!”
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But lines that don't remove Fort Bliss, its staying right here!

“Then who is confused about the lines?” pregunto primo Huero,
“Pues Commissioner's Court, and County Judge Vero.
Huero said, “That's really funny and a little bit silly,
the vote woulda been unanimous, but as usual, no one could find Willie.

Vero said “Where the hell is Willie? We've seen hide nor hair..”,
missing in action again, leaving the Valley an empty chair.
And up to the mic jumped his good friend Dora,
“I'm not campaigning on County time, this is my lunch hora!”

People in the Valley,
Don't ignore what ol' LionStar toldya,
Lets not forget Precinct 3's not just Vince, Chente, and Dora,
There's still the The Other Guy...what's his name?
Oh yeah, Rudy Loya!

Another valley race, we won't want to miss,
why its the open seat, in the good ol' 75th.
Gandara, Gonzalez, Enriquez, and Art,
strap in folks, the funs about to start.

Chased from Commissioner's Court, now running for rep,
Willie's in and Enriquez has stumbled, from his very first steps.
Art Frierro's the nice guy who enjoys exotic beers,
And Gonzalez is new to El Paso, she from Austin and just moved here.

Over at Council Ortega's waiting in long lines,
Forcing El Pasoans, to hear him bitch, moan and whine.
Susie Byrd's taking credit for freeing some gringo,
while his Chicano homie is still locked up, playing prison bingo.

Holguin's the People's Rep” the Valley says all together in unity,
betcha didn't know, he and Cortney Niland both live in gated communities.
Acosta stops the meeting to explain how she's votin'
90 minutes later she's still talking and everyone one snorin'.

Mayor Cook stands up and starts strummin' his guitar
and a year later and Carl Robinson can finally drive his car!
Cook shouted, “This vote is important people, don't caste it all whilly-nilly,
Good Lord, will someone please wake up old Ann Morgan Lily?”

Oh, and State Reps, don't think for a minute I forgot ya,
someone tell Dee Margo you don't heat-up Horchata.
He's drinking it in a coffee mug, wearing his trademark big frown,
He should be happy, he's now Mexican, he can dance, and his skin color is brown!

Under the Christmas tree lies a big present for Rep Naomi,
Its no opponent, and fat contribution from the TLR, her Republican homies.
Her BFF Marisa says “What about me? Que pasa?”
She got lucky, her opponent isn't from here, and his last name's Barraza.

And let's not forget the Head Master Joe Pickett,
He drew his own district lines, and tol' the rest of the delegation to “stick it”!
Come listen closely to what I have to say,
trust every word of it, I'm a “prominent local DJ”.

Senator Rodriguez has voters excited at a big political rally,
someone remind him he represents the 915, not the South Texas Valley!
And the race that's got our political hearts all a'quiver,
the Congressional Race, between Beto and Silver.

Yes, I know there's Ben Mendoza and Tilghman,
but them in Congress is as wrong as a bar full of children.
Crazy ol' Ben has has cowboy hat and whistle enabled,
While Tilghman sits waiting at the “community conference table”.

Reyes and Beto fight it out with headlines and conflict,
but first lets figure out where to draw the lines in the district.
HD 78 will be a tough campaign and high costin'
But come November, Chuco will send Smokin' Joe back to Austin!

When politics gets boring tune in to the Fox's Vic and Jo-Jo,
or if you prefer Spanish, El Matute con su “hijo le no!”
And let's not forget the political has-beens that need attention and grand-stand.
We don't want you anymore, you don't matter, what don't you understand?

And that reminds me, while my stash has me all mellow,
Don't think I forgot about you, prominent lawyer Theresa Caballero.
Running for the bench will put your prominence on a diet
Judges can't be vocal, they have to keep quiet!

Almost done now, I have to get back to my jale,
and then I think I'll send David K a dozen hot tamales.
Its getting sorta lonely out here being the blogger one and only,
I miss all the fighting with my goofy white Republican homie.

Corruption has plagued El Paso for years now, too long,
Lets send those criminals to federal prison, were their asses belong.
So come Election Day go vote no matter the hour,
And remember what LionStar says...Speak Truth to Power!

Marquez's Austin Opponent is a Joke

Look I don't know the vato. Never heard of him and never spoke to him. But he sounds like a joke of a candidate.

Although I think his business name is very creative.

The reason I never heard of him, or Mary Gonzalez from HD 75 for that matter, is because they aren't from El Paso. And point of fact, neither am I.

But unlike the Ricardo Aaron Barraza and Gonzalez, I have lived here for the past few years. And I have serious doubts about some claims in Barraza's quotes. Apparently in the El Paso Times today Barraza claims to live in El Paso most of the time and occasionally visit Austin for his business.

Yeah right.

Its a small business, which means it requires baby-sitting. State Rep Marisa Marquez says he applied for a position with her office but her openings were only in the District. So....if he lives here most of the time, what is the problem? Why go for the Austin position and not take the one in El Paso?

Only one reason. Because he lives in AUSTIN! Duh!

Here is another problem I have. Parties are about values. You align yourself with parties based on what you believe and what they profess to stand for. So the fact that the vato worked for State Rep Dee Margo, who was running against Joe Moody is a deal-breaker. I have a problem with pretty much any Democrat that worked against Moody because what we got was a State Rep that made bad votes for El Paso.

If you worked for the other side, why would you seek our nomination?

It doesn't make sense.

The one who has to be happy about this is Marisa Marquez. She's still has a boat load of cash in her campaign account. She will stomp a mud hole in this weak opponent. So she can say she survived a challenge without really having had a challenge.

Which is good for her because it will keep her sharp. She's gonna need to be if the Republicans can find someone in their local party that isn't a total joke to run against her in a Gubernatorial election if the lines drawn by the San Antonio Court stand.

I don't know who she pissed off, but somebody sure screwed her over in redistricting. Her district is in play for the Republicans in a Gubernatorial year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Crazy Pills

Okay after the other day's Commissioner's Court meeting, the previous week's ABC7 Extra, last week's County Commissioner's meeting, last weeks City Council meeting, and now Tuesday's city council meeting, I am not pretty convinced that there is a strategy being orchestrated by the County Judge, and City Reps Susie Byrd and Steve Ortega to create negative headlines to actively assist their friend Beto O'Rourke.

Yesterday's front page of the Borderland section is just one example of what I am talking about. I'll bet a dozen tamales that it is used in an O'Rourke mailer.

It was a piece about the Huckabee case. I'll go ahead a say what a lot of people out there are saying. The Hucakbee case is important, but abuse by law enforcement in Mexico is hardly a rare occasion. It happens to people all the time. It happens to Americans regularly.

But Hucakbee is white. And we care more about white people in this country than we do about people of color. Its the reason you hear about Hucakbee, but you never hear about his Latino buddy what went through the same thing. In fact, I'm not even writing his name because I bet you will have to look it up because its the white guy that gets all the coverage.

Some of you are grinding your teeth or rolling your eyes right about now, so feel free to stop reading. But if you are still with me here, think about all the white people that go missing and their faces are splashed all over the media because its such a tragedy. Chandra Levy, Jon Benet Ramsey, Stacy Peterson, etc...

America loves its white people. Minorities go missing, and its no where near the story that it is when its white people.

Now we are talking about redistricting. As I've said, I think this is nothing more than a move by the County Judge to try to make it impossible for the 23rd District to go in to Northeast and West El Paso. The statute requires that the districts be contiguous, so the best chess move to block the departure of voters from the NE and WS is to stomp your feet and insist that Fort Bliss be in the 16th District in its entirety.

And using the word "governance" doesn't change that by the way. Escobar and the Commissioner's Court have not shown in the slightest way how El Paso or Fort Bliss would even be remotely impact by the fact that training areas are in another Congressional District.

For Susie Byrd, she doesn't want people in El Paso to be represented by someone in San Antonio.

Again, I think this is more about helping Beto than it is anything else, but that's their story and they're sticking to it.

But for Byrd, it think its important that people understand something. Its either people from the NE and Westside, where there is a concentration of El Paso's anglo population, or its Latinos from the Lower Valley.

Either way, people need to understand a simple fact, there are too many people in the district and they have to be carved out from somewhere.

Now, in today's edition of the El Paso Times, there is yet another headline that will likely be used in a mailer. When the mailer's come out, and I'm pretty sure they will, I'll post them and link back to this piece. It'll be one big, fat, "I told ya so".

Interestingly there was this quote from O'Rourke in the Times' piece:

"The power and perks and privileges of that office, I think, are being unfairly used in what is the first truly competitive race for this seat in 16 years," O'Rourke said.
That is EXACTLY the critique that has been going around town about Byrd, Escobar, and Ortega. The critique has been that they are using the privileges of their offices to generate negative headlines.

And the media is biting.

For example, this is a real headline from the El Paso Times, along with this other piece. (I should point out that one is an editorial piece and the other is a news piece.

City rep endures a 90-minute bridge wait; watch video

Ortega's ordeal: City rep shows long bridge waits

"ordeal"? "endures"?

Waiting in line is now an ordeal one has to endure? Are you freakin' kidding me?

Cancer...that is something you have to endure.

The Bataan Death March...that's an ordeal.

Waiting in line is not an ordeal. Its something people do all the time.

What's next?




Please tell me you people see what is going on here. I know I'm not crazy. This bias is really getting pronounced and its irritating.

One last note, the redistricting process started long before O'Rourke or Tilghman got in the race. In fact, well before they got in the race, so I'm not sure where they see the Congressman is doing something for his political advantage. They weren't in the race yet and the Congressman beat his last challenger by a healthy margin.

In fact that point about who voted for him and against him in the general election in the Northeast and Westside is completely irrelevant because they are running in a PRIMARY election!

Escorts & Dyer Street Hookers

The on-going public corruption scandal has been a plague on El Paso for going on years now. Anyone connected to public corruption is going to lose and lose big in the next election.

The people haven't had a chance to take out their aggravation over the betrayal of the scandal yet and I'm betting they are going to be chomping at the bit to go and vote against anyone connected. In fact, more often than not, the best way to get people to vote in an election is to give them something to vote against.

The Public Corruption Scandal was about a violation of trust. El Paso is tribal and it takes a long time for El Pasoans to trust someone. When they do, you have a friend for life. Which explains why El Paso has so many legacy elected officials.

So a violation of that trust will echo in the voting booth. People are genuinely angry about the wide-reaching scandal.

But what I think people are most upset about isn't so much that there are people on the take.

Its the fact that they are accused of selling out for such a small amount. Its almost offensive that the people of El Paso were sold at a discounted rate, like something at Big Lots.

For some reason or another, people don't look at escorts in the same way that they do a hooker on Dyer. At their root, they are the same thing, whether its a high-priced call girl that accompanies a man for a night on the town before servicing him in some hotel room, or a Dyer street hooker turning tricks in a car while the engine is still running.

A ho is a ho.

But what separates them in our collective subconsciousness is price. Sure, we know that just because something is more expensive doesn't necessarily mean it is better quality, but we are conditioned to associate price with value.

And that is what is at the heart of the scandal. Sure, we joke about corrupt politicians all the time, but when we are slapped in the face with a dose of reality and we realize that we don't have high-priced escorts, we allegedly had cheap-ass Dyer street hookers.

Either way, we are the ones getting screwed....and paying for it...

Longtime EP Republican Activist Passed Away

Long-time Republican Party activist and former Congressional candidate W.E. "Walt" Woelper passed away earlier this week.

Woelper was an Election Judge and Precinct Chairman for more than 20 years. He leaves behind his wife Elvira and their two children.

Mr. Woelper's viewing will be Friday, December 23rd from 10:00am - 11:30am at Hardy Orr McDaniel Funeral Home on Montana.

Mary Homsely, wife of Republican Party Chairman Tom Homsley, said, "He represented our conservative  values to the utmost and will be greatly missed by all...all of us who knew Walt will miss his warm and friendly smile and cheerfulness".

Chente Quintanilla Pachanga Invite

Per request of Chente Quintanilla's campaign I am posting his invitation to his annual pachanga:

12 09 2011 Pachanga Invite Digital Invite

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Harris County Dems Elect First Openly Gay Chair

I was sent this email from the state head of Stonewall Democrats and I think its important to share.

The Harris County Democratic Party in Houston elected Lane Lewis as the interim County Chair at their meeting last night.  Lewis ran unsuccessfully as an openly gay candidate for Houston City Council in 2009.  Lewis replaces outgoing HCDP Chair Gerry Binberg, who stepped down before his term was completed.

For more information on this story, click on the link below:

Dan Graney

Dolores Briones Information Document

Sito Negron hooked it up again -

Briones Information

Annie's List Gives $20k to Mary Gonzalez Campaign

Its literally a big check. Annie's List contributed $20,000 to HD 75 candidate Mary Gonzalez last night at her campaign kick-off event at Cotton-Eyed Joes in Clint.

Gonzalez has lived her adult life in Austin but returned to El Paso a few days ago to campaign for the open seat for House District 75.

The event drew around 80 of her friends and family.

Honestly, I was pretty surprised at the amount they contributed. $20k is a lot of money and is a significant head start. She will certainly have to raise a lot more money than that to be competitive with Art Fierro and Willie Gandara, but its a heck of a start.

Cesar Chavez Op-Ed by my Uncle Marc Grossman

I've written, with great pride, about my family's service to El Movimiento and the United Farmworker's Union several times.

I'm lucky, I actually knew, and know, real-life civil rights leaders.

I'm even more lucky to be related to many.

My uncle Marc Grossman (yes, he's Jewish if you are wondering), was a long-time aide to Cesar Chavez, UFW spokesman, and is now the Communications Director for the Cesar Chavez foundation. He wrote an Op-Ed piece in The Californian, in response to a negative piece written about Cesar Chavez.

He corrects the record about false-claims that Cesar Chavez condoned violence and was anti-immigrant. The piece is called Cesar Chavez was the Epitome of Peaceful Protest. (He was occupying the fields and picket lines long before Wall Street protests came along).

Here's an excerpt:

Allegations that Cesar tolerated violence are patently false. Many of Day's other claims also demand correction. Here are just a few.With anti-immigrant tea partiers sometimes claiming Cesar supported their views, the fact is that the UFW organized undocumented workers and championed immigration reform decades before most unions acted similarly. When there were calls in the early 1970s for the UFW to check the legal status of workers at ranches under union contract, Cesar refused. "Our job," he said, "is to represent good, hard-working people whoever they are."
Read the rest of my uncle Marc's piece here.

Danny Anchondo's Comish Bid - DOA

Danny Anchondo's bid for a seat on Commissioner's Court is basically dead on arrival. In fact, I can't for the life of me figure out what his thought process was.

I could understand him running for a seat on the bench. He's a lawyer, its makes sense. People in the County have seen his name on a ballot before. All the Democratic candidates will win in November for all the judicial seats. Its low-hanging fruit and all he has to do is send a few mailers to the right voters, which ideally shouldn't be a problem for the out-going Chair of the El Paso Democratic Party.

But for the Commissioner's Seat, he has to run a real campaign. He doesn't have the name ID in the precinct that he needs to win. I've never seen that man phone bank or walk a precinct, so I doubt he's going to work very hard. He's essentially going to have to blow a crap load of money on mailers and signage to even have the remotest of chances of being competitive.

Which is only the beginning of his problems. His biggest problem is how people within the Party feel about him. And I'm not talking about the fossils in the Tejano Democrats. They are NOT the strength of the Democratic Party anymore.

As several people put it to me when they heard Anchondo was running, "Paybacks are a b*%&"

There are people lined up to take their shots at Anchondo for how he acted to them while he was Chair. He was never seen as a guy that was a fair arbitrator or a good referee. People tried repeatedly to work with him and it was always his way or the highway.

Well, it is the highway and there are a lot of people in the Party what want to see him as roadkill on that highway.

I've always been respectful of the Chairman in meetings. I always refer to him as Mr. Chairman out of respect for the office. But I would be lying if I said I didn't notice the unfairness that was on display at nearly every turn.

Which is why people that are pretending they are angry at what County Judge Veronica Escobar said in the El Paso Inc, are full of it. They aren't upset about it. They know its the absolute truth.

They are upset about who said it. Not what was said.

The chickens will come home to roost for Anchondo. He's  not going to do well.

I've had my differences with the Chairman, but I plan on being fair to him along the campaign trail, despite the prior treatment.

But he's already made a couple of mistakes. One of which is on a fundraiser flyer that was a Democratic Party Headquarters. It was a campaign fundraiser, despite being called an "Appreciation Reception", but no one knew what it was for and as you can see in this picture. There was no disclaimer, as required by campaign rules.

If your Chair isn't following the rules, how can you honestly expect anyone else to?

Team Shapleigh in Full Court Press

Its all hands on deck for what people not-so-affectionately call "the Shapleighites". Shapleigh isn't really calling the plays as much as people think he is, so I never really liked that name.

But call'em what you want, the Fantastic Four, the Get-a-long Gang, the Justice League, whatever.

The point is, the group of El Paso's strongest and closest political allies, County Judge Veronica Escobar, Congressional Candidate Beto O'Rourke, and City Reps Byrd and Ortega are in my opinion, a full-court press against the Congressman.

Its not even subtle anymore. There is still a dog-whistle quality to it, but its becoming more and more evident that they are raising legitimate issues in their respective issues as cover for an attempt for negative headlines about the Congressman to be used in mailers for O'Rourke.

Monday's cover of the Borderland section is one example. Today's front-page story about Ortega having to wait in line at the border is another. Susie Byrd on ABC 7 Xtra week before last, followed by Escobar with the maps. All three are clearly going after the Congressman.

And the Congressman's team is in total reaction mode. Rather than dictating the conversation, they all got caught on their heels by what the Foursome are doing and don't appear to have any counter strategy other than trying to occasionally counter-punch and weather the storm.

You might not like what I think it is that thee Foursome are doing, but I have to admit....effin' brilliant!

The maps is one example. Frankly, I think the whole map thing was a calculated strategy that blew up in the Commissioner's Court's face like dynamite in a Tom and Jerry cartoon. Now they are scrambling to try to make a legitimate argument.

And I think they busted the Congressman on something that I will write about later today.

There are really people out there that believe, because of what Commissioner's Court said, that Fort Bliss is being taken out of the 16th Disrtrict. To be more accurate, based on what they heard Commissioner's Court say was that it was being taken out of El Paso. So some people have asked me when they were going to start moving Fort Bliss out of El Paso. As in physically remove.

Yesterday the map madness continued at city hall. For some reason they don't get it. So let me break it down. (And why a vato with less than two semesters of community college should be breaking it down for city council when they pretty much all have college degrees is beyond me.)

Congressional Districts in the United States can only be a certain size. If you have too many, or not enough people in a district, it is in violation of the Constitution. The 16th Disrict of Texas has more than 60,000 people too many in the district. Bottom line is 60,000 people in the El Paso area that were once in the 16th district can no longer be there.

Those people have to come from somewhere. So let me say what no one else will publicly say. You either take white people from the Northeast and Westside, or you take brown people from the Lower Valley.

There is a going to be a lot of window dressing, but the bottom line is this. When it was brown people that were taken out of the 16th District from the Lower Valley, there was not the draw-a-line-in-the-sand, let's-have-several-hours-of-discussion about that map plan. And there was certainly not the tone of bitterness that we are now hearing from some of our leaders.

Probably because Fort Bliss is more important to El Paso than the Valley. Sorry gente en el valle, its the truth. When you become a major economic driver to El Paso, you'll matter as much as Fort Bliss but until then, most of the attention you will get from those of us that live in the city is during the Fourth of July when we want to go buy fireworks.

Oh wait, that's probably on its way out.


At least you still have the Mission's, Mammacita's, Cotton-Eye'd Joe's and the Fabens Rooster.

The point is, the Foursome turned something there were admittedly wrong about, into a multi-level governmental strategy, with at least one member of city council with the intent of making a City of El Paso Congressional District.

The maps are not drawn by city reps, county judges, the media, etc. They are drawn by the legislature and if they are messed up, the Courts drawn the lines. Its that simple. So following the Supreme Court's decision, the City and County want to be prepared to have a seat at the table.

Having a familiarity with the redistricting process, I just can't figure out where the hell that seat is actually going to be.

And now we are going forward with this conversation about bridge wait times. Fine, lets have that conversation, but lets be honest with El Pasoans about who's fault it is.

The fact that we have crappy border wait times is 100% the fault of the Republicans. While they more than tripled the number of Border Patrol agents on the border, there was no proportional funding towards Customs. Which is the real hold-up at the Border.

And increased security following 9-11 translates in to longer lines everywhere friends. There was a time in El Paso that you really only needed to show up about 30 minutes before your flight at the airport and you were good. Now they advise you show up 2 hours early. Its the world we live it.

It sucks, but lets be honest with ourselves about who's fault it is and lets not lie to El Paso.

Bottom line here is that the Foursome are, in my opinion, working on a calculated strategy to get the media to cover stuff that paints the Congressman in a bad light. Don't be mad because they are better at manipulating media than the Reyes are. Its a reality.

My question is simple. Where are the Congressman's allies right now. He should really take a look around and ask were the hell they are. It doesn't look like he has any friends on Commissioner's Court or in City Council right now.

That may be a big positive sign for O'Rourke's campaign.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Election Day Reschedule: The Winners & Losers

Okay, so the election went from a sprint to a marathon. Which for a lot of campaigns, is bad news.

Very bad news.

All candidates will tell you its good news because it gives them more time to talk to voters. Take a big whiff when you hear them say it because that ladies and genuine, is 100% US Grade A BULLSHIT!

They would much rather it be in March rather than April.

Especially the broke-ass campaigns. They have to make their pesitos last even longer. Unless someone suddenly taps a cash-flow somewhere. Which is possible, but not probable.

But its not all good news for the candidates that are loaded either.

So here is a quick hit of some of the more prominent races and who I think is a winner and loser as a result of the rescheduling of the election day. (Note: I'm not saying that the winners are going to win or the losers are going to lose. Its just a reflection of who benefits and who is hurt by the election date change).

County Commissioner Races

Precinct 1

Liza Montelongo - Winner. She has a strong team, she has a base, she knows how to campaign and she was just in a long tough campaign less than two years ago. She knows what she's in for and she will likely be able to do some fundraising. She is probably one of the biggest overall winners because of the election date change because it gives her time to distinguish herself from the other candidates and she will likely have the money to wage a prolonged war of attrition.

Danny Anchondo - Loser. The longer the race, the more time people will have to learn about him and its not likely they they are going to like what they see. He'll have to dump in a lot of his own cash if he wants to hang with Montelongo.

Jaime Romo & Dora Elkabachi - Winners. Sorta. No one knows who the hell they are and they will need all the time in the world in order to introduce themselves to voters in order to be competitive. One of them needs to pull a significant amount of votes in order to even force a run-off. Elkabachi has some ties to realtors, so she might be able to get some cash from those folks...maybe.

Precinct 3

Vince Perez and the Other Guy - Winners. It gives them time to continue to campaign and try to cut in to the notoriety of State Rep Chente Quintanilla who appears to be campaigning by holding events for seniors. God knows he pretty much mailed it in with his signage. They were lame when he was a State Rep candidate, they are even more crappy now that he is running for County Commissioner. Which means people in the lower valley will love them. Mostly because they suck. Perez needs all the time he can get to prove to everyone he is the smartest kid in class (which he is, by a country mile too), and convince some donors that he is the guy to support in that race. The Other Guy will need that time so that people will know who he is. I seriously forget his name. And if I do, I know voters do to.

Dora Oaxaca - Could be a huge winner....but...could be a huge loser too. She is a hard campaigner and the more time she has, the better off she will be. She was the last of the candidates to get in the race and I didn't think there was enough time for her to execute a ground game that would make her competitive. Now, time is on her side and she could quite possibly be the biggest winner of the bunch along with Montelongo.

That is...if her connections to the Gandara's don't ultimately do her in. People can cross their fingers, hold their eyes shut real tight, and wish hard with all their might, that voters will make a distinction between her and the Gandara's, but that is a pipe dream. Not in El Paso. And especially not down in the valley. As long as they stay scandal-free between now and Election Day, and as long as Vince Perez doesn't decide to remind voters of her connections to Gandara, she should do pretty well.

But if Perez has shown one thing, its that he knows how to turn a track-record in to political ammunition with the best of them.

State Rep Chente Quintanilla - He's got all the money in that race. But its been so long since he had a viable opponent that I think he's forgotten how to campaign. He spends a lot of time at senior centers, but thats not enough to get this down. Perez and Oaxaca will be able to tag team on Quintanilla's record for the next few months. Hell, I don't think we've seen a potentially strong tag-team like Perez and Oaxaca since the days of the Mega Powers (Hulk Hogan & Macho Man Savage) or Demolition (Axe & Smash). Relax Road Warrior fans, I'm sure we can include Animal and Hawk too...

Time is not on Quintanilla's side. Every day that passes is another day that Oaxaca and Perez are out hustling and preparing mailers outlining Quintanilla's Greatest Hits, like sopapillas and the sonogram bill.

HD 75

Art Fierro - Winner. Big time. He has the resources to run a marathon. He has the ground game knowledge too.

Willie Gandara - Loser. Every day the election goes one is one day closer to his dad going to trial. That is not going to be helpful for his campaign at all.

Plus every day that goes by is the potential for Gandara to miss yet another important meeting. People have noticed and if he's out campaigning for another job and ignoring the one he has...well, wouldn't you fire that guy if he worked for you?

Guess what people in the lower valley...he does.

Hector Enriquez - If he can stop being his own worst campaign enemy, he'll be a winner in this scenario. That's provided he can stop himself from pissing off the state delegation. They aren't happy with him. But you'll be interested to know who is buddy, buddy with him lately. I'll save that for another piece, I'm still waiting on two phone calls.

Mary Gonzalez - winner...maybe. She hasn't lived in El Paso during her adult life. She's going to need all the time she can get to overcome that obstacle. I don't think she's going to have the money to last until election day unless some cash drops out of the sky, she wins the lottery, or Annie's List or another Austin lobby group comes in to help. Those are all big "ifs". Her only hope is that she is very frugal, runs a flawless (truly) grassroots campaign, and gets some help in the form of campaign missteps from either Fierro or Gandara.

Congressional Race -

Beto O'Rourke - Winner. He has more time to make his case against the Congressman. If he continues with a negative campaign he will likely start to draw some blood from the Congressman. The media is never going to be critical of his campaign, so he can basically throughout the defensive playbook, remove the goalie from the net, and focus 100% on playing offense.

Congressman - Loser. Sorta. If its good for Beto, it must be bad for Reyes. True, but it also gives the Congressman more time to wage an air war in commercials and gives him more time to get big shots to come to town on his behalf. Beto has Susie, Vero, and Steve on his team, lets see if the Congressman can get Pelosi, Clinton, and POTUS on his. (PS if you don't know what POTUS means, stop reading my blog and stop reading books with pictures in them.)

Tighlman & Mendoza - Who gives a shit. They don't matter. They are not viable candidates and you people should immediately stop pretending they are. Jerome is a full-time teacher, doesn't have a solid campaign manager, and is so conservative that he was the keynote speaker at the Tea Party Rally earlier this year.

Where Was Gandara During Map Vote?

If you watched the County Commissioner's Court meeting, and don't we all, then you noticed that for a crucial vote on the maps conversation, embattled County Commissioner Willie Gandara was not present.

That got me curious.

So I called around and played my own version of a popular game...Where's Willie?

Turns out, the vote was taken near the end of the Commissioner's Court meeting, between 2:15 and almost 3:00pm.

I noticed that he filed to run for HD 75 yesterday. So I called Democratic Party Headquarters and it turns out that is around the time Gandara went to go file his papers to run for HD 75.

I know what you're wondering.

Couldn't he have gone some other time during the day yesterday? Yes Grasshopper, you are correct. The filing deadline was 6pm. Gandara could've still done his job and represented his community AND filed for office all in the same day.

The Race for the 448th District Court

The race for the 448th District Court is going to be one of the most interesting races to for political observers in El Paso and I think it may actually be a bit of a barometer for people that have been mentioned in the public corruption scandal but not charged with anything.

The 448th Court is Judge Arditti's Court. As you know, she was accused of, and beat a rap for nepotism. The question is, what impact it will have on her electability. Given the fact that this was something that came out at the beginning of her term, its something that has loomed over almost the entirety of her term.

Its one of the reasons I think she's one of the most vulnerable elected officials. In fact, now that Gandara is not running for re-election, I think she's THE most vulnerable elected official. All an opponent has to do is run a negative campaign. Not dirty, but just negative. One negative mail piece will probably due her in.

Of course that is all predicated on an opponent being credible enough to take her out. Her only opponent so far is Ray Gutierrez. Nice guy. If he sounds familiar its because he lost a race for Justice of the Peace to Barbara Perez. 

That's reason number one why I don't think he's a strong candidate. He came in second to Barbara Perez in a Justice of the Peace race. That's a smaller race and one that frankly, whoever works the hardest and spends the most money in should win. 

And yet he lost. 

But to make matters worse for him, he is representing County Commissioner Dan Haggerty, who is now being implicated in the public corruption scandal.

Gutierrez best argument to make to voters would've been that he was no ties to corruption or related charges. 

It makes it a whole lot harder to make that argument when he is representing someone who is implicated in the city's most high profile corruption scandal. 

He either thought being involved in a high-profile case was going to up his notoriety, or he didn't consider the implications to his race when he took the case. 

But it hurts his ability to win against an opponent who would otherwise be pretty easy to take out. Arditti has had some very bad press and her negatives are likely sky high. She spent a boat-load of cash to get elected the first time and it would probably take as much, if not more to get elected this time...if she had a viable challenger. 

Unfortunately in this case...nice guys finish last. Unless someone else gets in this race, I think Arditti can win re-election.

Candidate List - For Now...

There will be another window that opens that will allow more candidates to file to run in the primary. That filing deadline will be February 1st. So for now, here are the Democrats that have filed:


Monday, December 19, 2011

Gonzalez to Hold Announcement Event Tomorrow

Here is an announcement from the Mary Gonzalez campaign. She is a candidate for HD 75.

Mary Gonzalez for State Representative

Glenn "Butch" Maya Files to Run for El Paso Dem Chair

Democratic Party activist Glenn "Butch" Maya filed to run for El Paso County Democratic Party Chairman. And thank God he did!

Maya has spearheaded several successful projects for the Democratic Party and has been one of the few people in the Democratic Party leadership that have been basically fair to every one.

So far, there is not other opponent but there will be another filing opportunity at which point at least one, possibly more, candidates will file.

Quick Candidate Update

Interestingly there have been a couple of developments today in terms of candidates. It looks like Jerome Tilghman and Ben Mendoza both filed to run for Congress today.

Both as Democrats, which is surprising because Mendoza really isn't a serious candidate and Tilghman isn't going to be a viable candidate either.

Biggest surprise though is Danny Anchondo. He is not seeking re-election for County Chair and instead will be seeking the office of County Commissioner for Precinct #1. Dora Elkabachi also filed as a candidate for the same race today.

More as things develop...