Tuesday, August 28, 2012

City Rep District #2 Has Likely Candidate in Getsemani Yanez

Getsemani Yanez, who previously ran campaigns for Lyda Ness and Carlos Leon, and most notably part of the recent Reyes re-election bid, is likely going to be the first official candidate in the District 2 race to replace City Rep Susie Byrd who is termed out.

He already has a treasurer established and has been attending meetings and events for quite awhile now. Yanez will likely be the first in a crowd of candidates for the position. Prominent Democrat Mike Apodaca has already made his interest known about a possible bid for the seat.

Its still very early and Yanez will be in a crowded field of candidates so he'll have to start pounding the ground pretty heard if he wants to make a run-off.

More on this and other municipal races in the next few days...

Missing: UTEP University Dems

Someone find the biggest milk carton available and plaster a picture of the UTEP University Dems.

People around the UTEP campus have been asking what ever happened to the University Democrats. They were reborn (again) last year and were given much more fanfare within the El Paso Democratic Party than the Young Democrats because well, EPYD couldn't be controlled by the former chair.

But in typical University Democrat fashion, here today, gone tomorrow.

Even the College Republicans are asking what the hell happened to their colleagues from the left. Frankly, its a bit of a shame too because the UTEP College Republicans are in an almost all-Democrat town but have been recognized for their activism by the state entity of the College Republicans.

So someone go wake up the University Dems and tell them to get off the bench and get their butts in the game will ya?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

More Thoughts on Demo Meeting

I previously wrote about the controversial meeting for the El Paso Democratic Party last Monday. I pretty much just gave an account of what I had heard from people in attendance.

Now - its time for a bit of my own commentary.

I'm really sick of the notion that the old fossils that are the Old Guard somehow deserve a "place" and that we are somehow compelled to respect them.

Eff that. I don't. Respect is earned and I can tell you that acting like a spoiled child because your candidates lost is stupid. You don't deserve respect if you can't lose with a little class.

Maybe if you old fossils got off your asses and actually worked then you candidates wouldn't lose. But you think working for the Party is showing up to meetings, making asses of yourselves, and trying to keep good people out, and drinking is working for the Party. It isn't.

Hell you geezers couldn't manage a Facebook account. Sad to say that isn't an exaggeration either. 

All of you idiots that were running around calling some of the people that want to participate in the Party "jotos" are trash and an embarrassment to the Party. Here's an idea, KNOW WHAT YOUR PARTY STANDS FOR!

The Democratic Party stands for equality and gay rights. Don't like it? Do us all a favor then and leave the Party. 

I supported Butch Maya for Chair. Hell, I designed his logo. I wanted Butch to win because I thought the Party needed to go in a better direction. Guess what? My candidate lost. And you know what? I have to be a big boy and deal with it. I could stomp my feet and act like the idiots acted the other night at the meeting, or I could practice what I preach and work for a better Party. So I decided its better to be part of the solution than part of the problem and I am going to help as much as I can. 

Mature adults understand that Party comes before your silly little turf wars and ego trips.

And this business of supporting a Republican? Under TDP rules you can be removed as a Party Official for that type of action. In fact, I think its high time we did that. I'm going to the next meeting and taking my handy-dandy video camera with me. PLEASE do it again! That way I can get it on video and get rid of you people. I'm BEGGING you, please let me catch it on video!

Why would you sell out your values as Democrats and vote for a Republican? They stand against everything we stand for. If they still had their way, women and minorities wouldn't have the right to vote, fair wages, or decent working conditions. They are against the protection of a women's reproductive rights. They pursue a racist immigration policy. They are pushing an agenda that cuts funding for education. That affects our children. If their VP choice has his way it will be the end of Social Security as we know it. They are against the values we hold dear.

You would stand against the Party you profess to love so dearly and vote for that type of agenda because of your silly little egos?

Get over it. You lost. Move on. 

Or better yet, move over.

Friday, August 24, 2012

EP Democrats Falter, Again…

I am taking care of some family business right now so I am out of the loop on a few things. But since Monday night I have received a slew of phone calls, emails, text messages, and FB inboxes about the swearing-in ceremony for the new Chairman of the El Paso Democratic Party.

It was a royal mess. Surprise, surprise. 

Actually, some people should count themselves lucky I wasn't there because I would've been recording it and I would've posted the whole mess online. But since I wasn't there, they have a reprieve. 

But I pieced together what happened based on my conversations with people that attended the event. Here's how it wen't down...

On Monday night’s swearing-in ceremony held at The Garden, the local Democratic Party and its leadership proved once again why the local party is a joke to so many people. It was a damn novela for the people in attendance. There are a few things to take away from the entire evening:

New Leadership

The new leadership of the party seems to have the best intentions when it comes to making sure the party serves the needs of its membership and candidates. Unfortunately, there are always those that are going to have a fit when they feel power slipping through their fingers, like a wounded animal that knows its dying. More on that later, first, let’s discuss the appointment of new officers.

Seems that the new leadership is really coming out of an old group of headed by Norma Chavez, including the Chairman. To Melendrez’s credit, he has done a good job of reaching out to both sides of the party in an effort to have a more unified front, at least publicly. I guess the thought is to leave the bickering behind closed doors. The installation of the new officers was routine, however, I want to point out one specifically: Aaron Baraza for Parliamentarian. Pay attention because this gets good later. This is a guy who had never voted until the election he was a candidate in and who attempted to work for El Paso’s only Republican state legislator, Margo, last legislative session.

Granted, Parliamentarians are rarely utilized but there are some times when they may be useful, sometimes. That aside, he did not attend because he was in Austin. Not sure why—maybe he had more pressing business to attend to. But the Party is doing what it can to put a unified face on heading into November, but as we discover every election, sometimes we enjoy fighting amongst ourselves than we do with the four serious Republicans in town, because hey, we can get away with it.

What is sad is that TDP Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa was in attendance. He started his speech off by saying that he never got the chance to make it out to El Paso during his race for chairman— despite the fact that he campaigned for over a year. He gave some riled up speech about how Republicans want to steal babies away from minorities and other exaggerated items but never really effectively captured the audience’s attention. It’s not a good thing when you’re in a room full of Democrats and their attentions wavers as you speak. What I did take away from his speech was that he didn’t feel it was important enough to visit EP during his campaign. So much for the “Democratic Stronghold of Texas”.

There is certainly a well-earned perception outside of the Borderland that we may vote Democrat, but we are not a functioning Democratic party. To guys outside of here, we’re a joke. It’s a sad reality that we have to begin to alter if we ever want to shift attitudes from elsewhere.

New Guard?

There were a lot of people in attendance who never attend party functions. They were there mainly to show their support for Beto’s bid for the congressional seat against the Republican nominee (let’s be serious, why does she even think she has a chance?). The presence of these individuals was met with some very noticeable and vocal tension from the Old Guard’s membership and precinct chairs. When County Judge Veronica Escobar went up to speak she was met with boos and thumbs down from certain members of the party, and someone yelled, “We need to elect real Democrats!” Funny how most of those old geezers that say stuff like that usually aren't people that actually work to get Democrats elected or support key parts of our platform like protecting a woman's right to choose or the advancement of equality and gay rights.

Judge Escobar went on to introduce Beto and as he began his speech, someone from inside of the venue yelled at him, “Vote Republican!” Nice. Someone says to elected real Democrats and then turns around and says to vote Republican. And yet that person claims to be a Democrat. Clearly they have no understanding or loyalty to the values for which our Party stands.

A few of the Old Guard got up and went inside during his speech—so much for being the generation of values, respect and integrity.

In his Speech, Beto mentioned Congressman Reyes and thanked him for the positive work he had put forth for our community. He said it was important to continue the positive things Reyes had started in Washington for El Paso; I guess that’s a “no” to using campaign monies as a personal slush fund. Including Reyes in his speech was a big change for Beto, considering the slew of criticisms he threw against the Congressman as being ineffective—looks like he’s trying to mend some wounds with Reyes supporters.

Fireworks at The Garden (Didn't Judge Escobar ban fireworks in the County?)

So amongst the other group of people at The Garden were a lot of new faces that people were really unfamiliar with—a lot of youth. Definitely a good thing to have younger people start to take more of a role in an aging party; someone’s got to do the door knocking. Anyway, after the local candidates had all had a chance to talk, a precinct chair got up and asked to nominate precinct chairs for some of the vacancies within the party (there’s an approximate 75 percent vacancy rate I’m told). She was recognized and then she proceeded to list about a slate of chairs, about 50 in total, from all across the County.

That lit the fuse.

Existing precinct chairs stood up outraged and upset that someone would ever dare try to promote participation within the party without their authorization first. Yolanda Clay made the argument that this was not the proper forum for such a discussion and such a motion could not be made given the public nature of the meeting. Too bad she was wrong; considering the officers had a quorum and anyone who’s ever read Robert’s Rules of Order would know that. It’s a good thing we’d just elected a parlimenta…

Damn it. He’s out of town.

Clay added that these nominees needed to be vetted and their voting records needed to be analyzed using Texas VAN to make sure they were active enough to be chairs. Like Aaron Barraza right? The guy who had never voted until this past election and was unanimously voted in as parliamentarian despite his absence from the meeting? Like him right? Oh ok, cool, just checking.

Motions and seconds and roll calls were being called for and made and it was just a mess. People were yelling and the Chair was struggling to keep it all together. It all culminated in Blanche Darley going up to him and asking to be recognized to which the Chair sternly replied, “No! You’re drunk and I have the mic!”

So much for party unity, huh? After that, the situation began to calm down and the chair decided to table the motion and called an emergency meeting on September 20 to work through the nomination process for these vacancies.

What is interesting about these nominees is that a group has to be behind them all, as they were all nominated together. After this debacle known as parliamentary procedure happened the room began to clear out, despite there still being four state candidates scheduled to speak. The people missing were the younger unfamiliar people that had been there earlier. It appears that a group is aiming to have a larger influence in the party now. That’ll make for some interesting “discussions” in the future.

Overall, despite what former State Senator Eliot Shapleigh said at the start of his speech, it’s not a great time to be a Democrat in El Paso. We have a lot of work to do internally to ensure that our community becomes a true stronghold and not a laughing stock of a political party.

Way to make a good impression in front of the new State Chairman people. Once again you are doing your best to ensure El Paso is the laughing stock of TDP.

Another take away from Monday night: Aaron will definitely need a copy of Robert’s Rules of Order. I say we we start a colecta. Who wants to kick in?

Friday, August 17, 2012

First Latino State Democratic Party Chair to Headline Swearing-in Ceremony

Gilberto Hinojosa, the first Latino Democratic Party State Chairmen in Texas will be in El Paso as part of the swearing-in ceremony of the new El Paso Democratic Party leadership team.

The event is being organized by the in-coming Chairmen Rick Melendrez and will be on Monday at 6:30pm at The Garden in downtown El Paso.

This event is open to the public and there will be refreshments available.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

El Paso Democrats Can Help Moody Win Contribution

Joe Moody's race for HD 78 has been called one of the most important races in the state legislature this year. Perhaps that's why Senator Rodriguez and State Representative-elect Mary Gonzalez have taken the lead and come out to financially support Moody.

The mere fact that the head of our legislative delegation is leading the way in support of Moody should send a message to the rest of the delegation to jump on board. Chairman Pickett has stated that he's going to stay out of it and Representatives Marquez and Gonzalez have been pretty quiet so far. While I understand that there is some sort of unwritten rule about helping out against incumbents, I think Pickett, Marquez, and Gonzalez have a higher obligation to the people of El Paso to support a candidate who's positions are more consistent with the values and priorities of El Pasoans.

Representative Margo toed the Republican Party line on key votes that have had a very negative impact on El Pasoans. Pickett, Marquez, and Gonzalez should follow the lead of Senator Rodriguez and Rep-Elect Gonzalez and forget unwritten code in favor of the people of El Paso by publically and financially supporting Moody.

To be fair to Marquez, she has supported Moody against Margo in the past so her support for Moody would be consistent with her previous support. For that matter, so has Chairman Pickett.

If you'd like to help Moody win a contribution from the Burnt Orange Report, click this link and vote for Joe Moody. Its quick, its easy, and its a simple thing you can do, whether you live in his district or not, to help him win.

Follow up to GOP Faction Piece

Some updated information from yesterday's piece on the GOP faction stuff. It turns out there is another version of whats going on over there with my friends on the right. Apparently the other version is that Dan Chavez is not running the Republican congressional nominee's campaign because he is focused on his own senate run.

He's going to lose that one bigger than the one he lost two years ago by the way.

But it turns out the the Republican nominee's former campaign manager that left her campaign on election day is now running...you guessed it...Dan Chavez's campaign.

But the reports of infighting within the Republican nominee's camp appear to be pretty consistent. Which is strange because they apparently haven't been looking at the math. No matter what happens, they just don't have the votes to be a threat in November...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Award Time - Commissioner's Court Edition

Homegirls of the Week: County Judge Veronica Escobar and Commissioner's Perez and Chozet get the Homegirl of the Week Award for voting in favor of domestic partner benefits at the County.

Good for them. It wasn't an easy vote and they took it anyway. It was an especially difficult vote on the part of Escobar because she's the only member of Court that is still going to be around come January and from the news coverage it appears she did it mostly because it was the right thing to do.

But I think they also made an effective economic argument for domestic partner benefits at the County. It saves tax payers money and that is a hard argument to be against, even if your name is Dan Haggerty.

The meeting had the usual group of people that are against gay rights including Bishop Brown, his wife, Sal "I Want Attention" Gomez, and Nacho "Oh, Pretty Please, Let Me Still Be Relevant" Padilla. We've seen this same show at the city. The only thing that has changed is that Pastor Brown is now Bishop Brown and now he has a loud shirt.

For the benefit of Bishop Brown and his flock, and for Commissioner Lewis for that matter, let me explain the basic flaw in their premise about the people having voted on this issue. You are talking about a different ordinance with different details, applying to different people, with different requirements, at a totally different level of government.

Stop saying the people voted on it because they haven't. And there is a far bigger electorate at the county level as opposed to the city level.

Douchbag of the Week - Cowboy fans. I still hate you guys. Just thought I'd remind you.

GOP Faction Battle

They certainly aren't at the point where they can have a good ol' fashioned El Paso Faction War between various groups within the El Paso Republican Party, but my friends from across the aisle seem to be in the midst of a little scuffle over factions.

Apparently the campaign manager for their nominee, I forget her name, was a guy that left her campaign on the day of the primary election. Word on the street is that Dan Chavez is running the congressional campaign and apparently that is bothering another faction of the local GOP.

Dan Chavez previously ran for State Senate in the last election against State Senator Jose Rodriguez.

I should mention that the Ron Paul supporters are somewhat of a pivot point for the local GOP. Lets face it, they are the actual worker bees the GOP needs in order to make any of the elections they are about to lose in November look respectable. A good portion of the El Paso Liberty Group are supporters of the Democratic Nominee Beto O'Rourke. Some prefer the Republican nominee.

Apparently there was a bit of a hub-bub about some of the postings of the El Paso Liberty Group's Facebook page being interpreted as "pro-O'Rourke" and they were contacted by the establishment of the GOP and called to the carpet for it. Which is interesting because pulling the loyalty card with the Liberty Group isn't going to fly because the Liberty Group quickly pointed out the fact that its difficult to ask for Party loyalty when the GOP's nominee was seen recently courting the support of the El Paso Young Democrats at a meeting in San Elizario.

Interestingly at that meeting, the El Paso Young Democrats were featuring a Democratic congressional candidate that would've taken on Congressional Republican Quico Canseco in the General Election.

One more note, the El Paso Liberty Group is the most vocal and visible political group in town in terms of social media. The El Paso Democratic Party had a rather vigorous social media campaign in place but Danny Anchondo pulled the plug on it. The GOP has basically no social media presence and very few of the Democratic Party clubs have an active social media presence to the degree that the Liberty Group does.

Maybe the new Democratic Party Chair Rick Melendrez will take note and let some of the young guns in the El Paso Democratic Party start leveraging the FB page again...

Changes in New Regime of the El Paso Democratic Party

On August 20th, there will be a changing of the guard with the El Paso Democratic Party. The new Chairman of the El Paso Democratic Party, Rick Melendrez, will take over from the current Chairman Danny Anchondo.

Melendrez's previous reign as Party Chairman was shadowed by controversy and a range of allegations but the new Chairman is already making some changes. I've heard that the new Secretary of the El Paso Democratic Party is going to be Illiana Holguin, spouse of City Representative Eddie Holguin.

They also made an official announcement yesterday that the new PIO is Soraya Holguin (pictured). I don't know what her public relations experience is as of yet but it is a step in a different direction for the Democratic Party. Lets face it, the Party's public relations has either been non-existent or terrible. There has been a complete lack of presence from the Party in local media and its a rare occasion that the Party ever voices opinion on local, state, or federal policy issues.

Soraya Holguin hasn't previously been around the El Paso Democratic Party but Melendrez is likely getting new blood in to the Party for a couple of reasons. One is likely to have a new pool of talent and the other is because the current group of established Party members aren't going to give him the warmest of welcomes due to his last stint as Party Chair.

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Haggerty Brothers at Comish Court

I tried to catch the Commissioner's Court meeting this morning on-line this morning because I wanted to see the Domestic Partners Benefits debate.

However I thought another item was interesting. Justice of the Peace Brian Haggerty had to be before the Court to ask for permission to raise a fee about something I don't remember or care about. I thought it was funny that Judge Haggerty and Commissioner Haggerty (his older brother) were going back and forth on the issue.

I got a kick out of them calling each other by their titles. Somewhere Ma Haggerty is smiling...

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Little Late, But Let Me Get This Straight...

We are spending a bunch of money on an out-of-town artist to come to El Paso and make images from Loteria on our transit stations out of old car parts?

Look, I love art as much as the next guy. I don't have an artistic bone in my body, unless you count the ability to tell someone to go to hell, in which case, I'm Picasso.

I'd never be the type to say what is and isn't art. But I can say what is and isn't insulting. And this Alameda corridor art project is a slap in the face. As it is there is a problem with blight on Alameda. Its the part of town full run-down car dealerships and parts stores. Its something many are trying to overcome.

And someone that it was a good idea to send money to someone out-of-town to make art out of old car parts in the area of town trying to overcome a stigma? If I didn't know better, I'd think someone was TRYING to perpetuate a stigma rather than have a worthwhile art project.

BTW, I feel I should note that I think Loteria is a distinct cultural icon. So someone isn't creating new art, its just copying something someone else did.

Frankly the idea making an eye out of a wheele and windshield wipers in the part of town that is blighted with run-down car and parts stores is a slap in the face. I guarantee you that putting something like that in the hoity-toity Westside would not fly.

Lets face it, transit gets used the most in the valley, so why can't we make it a priority to make sure its done right. Not with some left-over car parts because symbols are important.

Oh, and here's a wacky idea...why not spend all that feria on LOCAL artists. We have a ton of local artists in town that could come up with some great concepts and then we don't have to export our dollars.

Joint City - County Meeting Yesterday...

I guess it wasn't really advertised much but I dropped in on a joint meeting of El Paso's City Council and Commissioner's Court. I gather that the main topic was shared services and consolidation.

If you think a City Council or Commissioner's Court meeting is exhilarating and entertaining on their own, imagine all that fun jam-packed in to one meeting! Sorry...that's sarcasm. I apparently have a reader who's lips still move when they read and they don't always understand sarcasm so I feel I need to point it out now.

For some reason, they beat the crap out of a dead horse on the topic of IT consolidation. Not sure why considering that is the part of consolidation that seems to have been the most successful consolidation venture. But for some reason Representative Robinson couldn't seem to wrap his head around the fact that a cost avoidance is similar to a cost savings. Either way, its money the tax payer's don't have to spend. Not sure why that is so difficult to understand for Representative Robinson, but after a testy exchange between Robinson and County Judge Veronica Escobar, Robinson replied, "Well maybe I'm not that smart."

Actually the testy exchanges were the highlight of the meeting really. Clearly City Reps Holguin and Robinson have issues with some members of Commissioner's Court since both of them seemed to clash with County Judge Escobar in one form or another during the meeting.

Commissioner Lewis had a bit of a testy exchange with Commissioner Perez, though he really went out of his way to convey that he "respectfully" disagreed. It was over going forward with a motion to explore the idea of a Parks Authority. The motion wasn't to create the authority, it was a motion to explore the idea of creating a Parks Authority.

It was also interesting to watch a meeting facilitated by two head hanchos, the Mayor and the County Judge. If you are a policy wonk, it was interesting stuff.

Sidebar - Sal Gomez was interviewed again. I cannot figure out why local media interview that guy. He's contrarian, we get it. Seriously reporters, photogs, and assignment directors, can't you get comment from ANYONE else? When he's constantly the go-to guy for contrarian view points it actually inflates his influence.

Don't expect there to be consolidation of law enforcement anytime within our lifetime. Its just structurally impractical. Although Chief Allen made a remark about there are not the egos in place now among the Sheriff and PD leadership that there was in the past. I'm not sure who that was a shot at...

I didn't stick around I left right after an exhilarating conversation about extending a lease...(to my slow reader, yes, that was sarcasm as well.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Mastermind and the Team Behind the Vince Perez Victory

I've written in the past about operatives and volunteers in the area and the work they do. Since most of Team Perez are people you probably have never heard of, I thought I'd do a profile of them so you get to know the people that played a key role in helping Vince Perez pull off a major political upset.

So, first things first. None of it could have happened without a gifted candidate. You can have the best team in the world, but if your candidate is sub-par, doesn't know the issues, is horrible on camera, stubborn, shoots off at the mouth, or doesn't listen to advice, then no amount of talent is going to pull out a win. I've seen that first hand.

Here's the team you've probably never heard of:

The Mastermind – Jose Landeros was the campaign manager and Perez and Landeros quickly became a strong team. In fact, for most of the campaign, it was just the two of them. Interestingly Landeros wasn't Perez's first choice for the position. Landeros tells the story of being offered the position and after he accepted he told Perez, “I don't really know how to run a campaign.” To which Perez replied, “Thats okay, I don't know what I'm doing either.”

Almost a year later, they pulled off a major win (but should keep your eye on).

There's a reason I dubbed him the Mastermind. He understood the importance of getting out the base. Their strategy was very Rovian and ultimately proved effective.

What makes Landeros' work so impressive is basically three things – his age, his lack of experience, and his intelligence. I guess you could add a healthy dose of confidence.

To understand Landeros you have to understand one simple fact. He's egg-head smart. He's a gifted researcher and a numbers whiz. The guy is a whiz with data and at one point there were so many charts, tables, and graphs on the walls that it looked like a scene from A Beautiful Mind. He used to be the Program Director at Community Scholars and so he is quite comfortable researching complex issues and accessing and analyzing information. That was a powerful tool for the Perez campaign.

It also meant he knew a lot of young, energetic, and smart people. So when it came time to rustle up some volunteers, Team Perez always had the youngest, best, and brightest in town.

Landeros himself is young.

Very young.

People forget because of his beard and the way he carries himself that the vato is only 25 years old. He has a Bachelor's Degree from Texas A & M and somehow managed to get his Master's degree, while he was campaigning for Perez. He's a freakin' prodigy and obviously people have taken note. He's already been contacted by a few candidates for other projects because they recognize his work.

The fact that he has never run a campaign before and had very limited campaign experience to begin which makes the achievement that much more notable. But his intellect combined with his ability to problem solve helped level-out the learning curve and overcome the lack of experience in things like block-walking, phone banking, and GOTV.

Now he's a pro.

Two other qualities you should know about Landeros. He's got a hell of a work ethic. Late nights were common in the campaign. Block walking when other candidates wouldn't. Covering more turf than the others could and trying things the others wouldn't. You can't teach that quality. You either have it or you don't. He purchased a new pair of boots early in the campaign. He's worn holes in them through block-walking in the valley.

And then there's his humor. He knows exactly the right moment to make light of things and that helps a lot when there are a lot of young people in the campaign. Case in point, the other night he and a couple of volunteers were in Horizon City and there were several sheriff deputies, Horizon PD, and some guys with the word SECURITY on their shirts just chillin' in front of the 7-11 behind the McDonald's. They were there for a good while just shooting the breeze. Landeros decided to have a little fun and as they drove off, he played the Bad Boys song (Theme from COPS) in his truck as loud as he could. One of the deputies started bobbing his head to the song, the rest just sort of turned around and gave a look to Landeros as they drove off laughing.

Pay attention to this guy. He's gonna be around for a long time. Get used to it. And he and Perez planned a brilliant GOTV effort that required the help of a good strong core group of motivated, dedicated, hard-working people to make it happen.

The Team. Like every good team there are role players and chemistry is important. The opposition must've hated seeing the team pull up during early voting. A collection of young, smart, good-looking, hard-working people that other people wanted to be around. They showed up at an early voting site, usually just to eat and go over their next plan of action and then boom, they disappeared. Everyone wondered what they were up to.

Its called GOTV people...and they have campaign street cred now...

The Back-Up. Claudia Ordaz first started working with Perez when they were with Congressman Reyes' Office. She helped a lot with messaging and press releases because of her background but her biggest contribution was support. She kept the team on task and redirected when they would occasionally wonder off into something less productive. She did a lot of block-walking and was really effective at communicating with voters which makes sense because communications is her field. She earned a Bachelor's from UTEP.

Another example of young, smart talent on the team. Perez ballot number in the run-off election was #33. Ordaz happens to be a big Rangers fan and there is a guy that plays on the Rangers who has the number 33 and just so happens to have the last name Perez. So she bought a t-shirt with the last name and the number and wore it on election day. That's devotion people. She was also a great cheerleader for her boyfriend and people better keep an eye on her too. A young, smart Latina with campaign experience and skilled at crafting a message...if I were a State Rep, City Rep, County Commissioner, or School Board member in her area, I'd watch my back...

The Intern. Darlene Diaz is another one of the Perez team of young guns. She used to intern for Congressman Reyes and is working on a Master's Degree at St. Mary's in San Antonio. She came back in to the campaign during the run-off and she was a tenacious block-walker and phone-banker. She's a Socorro High graduate and even recruited a member of the championship baseball team to come help out with an all-night election eve night-op. She's great with seniors and knows every back-road and dirt-road shortcut in Socorro. She once scared the hell out of her block-walk partner by spending an hour visiting with the first Mayor and former Fire Chief of Socorro during a block-walk.

The Cavalry. A couple of young guys also need to be mentioned here as well because they were the Johnny-on-the-Spot guys that showed up at the right time and gave a good final push to help out near the end during early voting and election day.

Cristian Martinez, who is a UT student was one of the block-walkers and phone-bankers. He was also a poll-sitter for a while and was great because he was very quiet and non-threatening. Thats a good quality to have when you have some overly-aggressive people shoving push cards in a voter's face.

James “Colville” Bonneau – Another academic freak of nature. He's only 22 years old and he's a law student in DC. He came home to El Paso and told Perez he had some time on his hands and he ended up jumping in with both feet and putting in some crazy hours with the campaign. He actually was greeted by a voter during the late-night night op on Election eve at around 1230am at a home in the Del Valle area. The voter complimented him on how hard the campaign was working to still be out in the middle of the night trying to hustle votes. (I know what you're thinking...he looks a little like Nicholas Cage in this pic. I think I feel another Separated at Birth piece coming along soon.)

The Kiddo... My kiddo to be exact, Sandra Abeytia. She along with a friend were given a great deal of responsibility for a not-quite 18 year old. She had to babysit Pavo Real. If you don't know, campaign workers are known for throwing a few elbows down in the valley. But she did well and made her Papa and her Tata proud. Keeping up the family name in politics...

All of these young people deserve a tip of the hat. People, including myself, tend to ignore young voters because of their general apathy and lack of participation but the people in the inner core of Team Perez are the exception and not the rule. They care about their communities enough to get some skin in the game and work hard for something they believe in. Not many people do that and it was their drive and intensity that made the phenomenal GOTV effort a reality.

And lets not forget...

Jorge Reyes, the campaign treasurer. He made sure everything was in order and even worked right up to midnight a couple times to make sure that the reports were in on time. He's also a good information guy and helped at various times throughout the campaign.

Jeff Gonzalez, a young Republican ironically, also chipped in during early voting to help out at the polls and he's currently interning in DC as well. (He might be in my next Separated at Birth piece too because he looks like Tim Duncan from the Spurs, if he were Chicano.)

And a couple of campaign vets helped out one weekend as well. Lorretta Akers and Kathy Coronado walked some turf in Socorro for the team too.

Obviously Perez's parents were very helpful to their son in his bid to win the election. His dad was his sign guy. And he engineered some pretty effective displays of signs at the polls. He also ran food out to all the volunteers during early voting. Vince's mother, like all mothers, was the glue that kept things together (and cleaned up after everyone). Every campaign should have a campaign mom. She made sure people were fed and that there were always snacks in the fridge. She has two boys, but she ended up with several more sons and a few daughters during the campaign. Great lady. The parents are pure class.

Speaking of parents, Claudia Ordaz's parents also got in on the act and phone banked. Mr. Ordaz was a poll sitter in Fabens, which requires a special kind of dedication. If you've ever had to poll sit in Fabens you know exactly how much it can suck. Mr. Ordaz volunteered to do it.

And every campaign should have a campaign madrina as well. Team Perez had Sylvia Barron who fed the troops and put up with a house full of young people that became the defacto headquarters for the campaign at times. She was probably Perez's most ardent supporter that wasn't a blood relative.

Danny Frescas was another phone-banker that helped out a lot. He was very helpful to the campaign and another strong supporter.

Jose Landeros' mom also helped quite a bit and block-walked, phone-banked, and drove volunteers and people to the polls. She frequently wore an "Aggie Mom" or other A & M shirt in support of her boy-genius. 

Angela Delora gets a special mention too. She got roped in by Landeros as well because, well, she's his girlfriend. At first she didn't want anything to do with campaigning. Her famous last words were "I'll drive you around but I don't want to have to talk to anyone." Next thing you know "Hi, my name is Angela and I'm a volunteer with the Vince Perez campaign...", she was phone banking and giving voters rides to the polls on "The Votin' Bus". She drove a guy to the polls that had never voted in his life until this run-off election and he was going to the polls to vote for Perez. She was very proud that the gentleman was her voter. She and Landeros made almost 800 phone calls on Election Day as part of the GOTV effort. She was excited when the results came in as the rest of the team. Not bad for an RN who was completely a-political until this election and said she didn't want to talk to anyone. 

Take a bow Team Perez – you guys deserve it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Winners & Losers of Run-Off Election

Obviously all the candidates that won could be considered winners but there is more to that in terms of run-off winners and losers.

Lets start with winners.

First and foremost the people of Precinct 3 -  They won more than anyone in the run-off because now they will be able to move past the culture of corruption and failed leadership that has plagued the valley for so long. If Vince Perez has shown anything in this race, he's shown that he's a fighter and gets results.

Vince Perez - He won by not listening to people when they said it can't be done. He won by out-working his opponents and not being afraid to go in to hostile territory if necessary. He won by beating them at their own game. His win gives him some very valuable political clout that isn't given, its earned. Its called street cred.

Diana Navarrete - She soundly defeated Theresa Caballero who has now been in three consecutive races and has lost every time. In my opinion the message from voters about Theresa Caballero is clear, they don't want her in an elected position. The people have spoken. Navarrete also had her share of detractors and people who didn't think she could win. Truth be told, I thought she was the weakest of the field during the primary. But she proved me, and everyone else wrong. Good for her.

Laura Strathmann – She pulled off an upset. She worked harder than any other judicial candidate in the field for any race this year. She started early and spent a boatload of money, but she went on a bumpy ride along the way. She went from Laura Who?, to front-runner, to being the underdog in a run-off. She beat the Hispanic Female rule. Its been a while since an Hispanic female lost a countywide race when they were head-to-head with a non-Hispanic or male candidate. It proves that El Pasoans will tend to vote for Raza but that doesn't mean they always do and will support the candidates they feel best about. Although its common place for white male candidates to win county or citywide in El Paso (Mayor Cook, former Senator Shapleigh, Judge Spiezney, etc.) Strathmann and Justice McClure now showed El Pasoans will elect white women too. And to top it all off, Strathmann's Republican challenger is rumored to be dropping out.

Yvonne Rodriguez – She went from losing a Probate Court seat to one of the Chews to likely being the next member of the Texas Court of Appeals. Talk about a promotion and a come back!

Print Shops – Based on the length of this election season, print shops and mail houses made pretty good money in this election cycle.

Beto O'Rourke – won a huge race. A lot of things went his way to make it happen, but a win is a win. He's going to trounce his opponent in the general election as well. You think he beat an 8-term Congressman with pure hustle and that he's going to suddenly put it in neutral and coast to victory? Especially knowing there is a small group of Democratic Party nuts that will likely sell their values out by supporting a Republican in order to settle a score? Not likely.


Okay, before you read this understand that this is just my opinion. You don't have to agree. And its not personal, its just an assessment on my part. It has only the value that you give it. If there's a list of winners, there has to be a list of losers. But if you have a beef, you know where to find me. I don't duck anyone.

Sheriff's Officers' Association – Those guys spent a boat load of money backing a lot of candidates that lost. A lot. They backed one candidate in the Precinct 3 Commissioner's race simply because of a personal friendship of one of the members of leadership and one of the candidates. Thats failing their membership. And having a Republican congressional candidate address membership? Ugh...since when does labor offer an audience to someone from a party who wants to dismantle labor? That makes no sense and frankly is indefensible. I sure hope they didn't contribute to a Republican as well because that would be really bad.

The El Paso County Democratic Party / Tejano Democrats – They can't seem to get ANYONE they get behind elected. They couldn't get the Congressman re-elected, they couldn't get their judicial candidates elected and they couldn't get Chente elected in the valley. If you can't make it happen for Chente in the valley, who can you help? Seriously, how much more ineffective can we be as a Party people? Based on their ability to get candidates elected so far, I'm hoping they decide to back Dee Margo and Mitt Romney at this point.

Political Consultants – There's a herd of political consultants and I don't want to single any one particular person or group out here but lets be honest, it wasn't really that good of a year for them. The big wins came from candidates that didn't have big consulting firms behind them. They were basically organic, grassroots operations. Sure a few wins came along their way but they were in races they were supposed to win. They had all the money and the front-runner candidates. You are supposed to win those races. Can't spike the ball if you can't acknowledge the losses along the way, and there were some big losses that should rightfully be an anchor on their won-loss record.

And finally...people who start claiming victory before the actual win. There's a reason they say don't count your chickens before they hatch. I know of a political operative who's reputation for winning is basically shot after this election who posted on election day a picture of a queen putting a king in check on a chess board with the caption, El que rie al ultimo, rie mejor. That means he who laughs last, laughs best.

Don't think she was laughing on Election Night...

El Paso Democrats Make Me Laugh Sometimes...

Yes, I am the Arch Duke of Democrats, I fully acknowledge that. But sometimes, my own party makes me want to put my head in my hands and say "What the hell?"

Word on the street, although unconfirmed, is that Aaron Barraza, who was closely tied to the Moreno faction of the Party in his run for State Rep earlier this year is now going to be the new Parliamentarian for the El Paso Democratic Party under the new Party Chair, Rick Melendrez.

So the person who is going to make official interpretations of the state TDP rules is someone who has only voted once in their life? Great...I'm sure thats going to work out wonderful.

Oh and hey, speaking of voting for the first time in this last election...shout out to El Paso County Commissioner Tania Chozet who despite being registered to vote since '08, finally voted in her first election in El Paso during the Primary earlier this year. A couple more elections and she'll be considered a reliable voter.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Dee Margo's PAC

So I took a look at Dee Margo's PAC earlier today and I noticed its called Amigo's de Dee Margo. Wow, he's really buying in to this whole Latino heritage thing now huh?

Interestingly of the "amigos", only contributor appears to have a Spanish name and only one appears to be from El Paso.

Dee Margo, the gift that keeps on giving.

Oh, in other Margo news, it appears the son that famously said something along the lines of El Paso isn't good enough for his dad when he lost to Joe Moody the first time is apparently back in town.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Republican Candidate for the 388th Family Court Withdraws

According to a Facebook post, the Republican candidate for the 388th Family Court in November, Paula Thomas, has withdrawn her name from the ballot.

So if the report is accurate, then Laura Starthmann is Judge-Elect of the 388th Family Court.

Smart move on the part of Thomas, she was going to lose anyway. You have to go pretty far back to the last time a Republican won a countywide seat.

Campaign Alliances

Take a look at this image. Its a picture of list of candidates that Representative Quintanilla poll sitters were passing out to voters during early voting.

The candidates listed forged alliances with Quintanilla because the perception was that he would be able to get out the vote.

I guess it didn't occur to any of them that Quintanilla has never really had a serious challeger in an election.

Know what all the names have in common?

They all won.

Except one.

Negron Joins Senator Rodriguez Staff

Long-time El Paso journalist Sito Negron will be joining the staff of State Senator Jose Rodriguez soon.

Negron will be the Communications Director for El Paso's Democratic Senator for the 29th District of Texas.

Negron has worked at the El Paso Times, Newspaper Tree, and the El Paso Inc.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


David K nailed it in this piece in that special way only The Juice can.

Especially when he talks about staying relevant and rejection.

Read it here! http://refusethejuice.typepad.com/thinkaboutit/2012/08/pat-yourself-on-the-back-el-paso-you-finally-did-something-right.html

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Checkmate! Perez Stuns Quintanilla (and everyone else)

Long-time State Representative Innocente “Chente” Quintanilla was soundly defeated Tuesday by Vince Perez in the Democratic run-off election for El Paso County Commissioner Precinct #3.

Perez defeated Quintanilla by more than 13%, which in political terms, is a big win. Especially when you consider the context. Quintanilla was for all intents and purposes an incumbent. A 13%+ victory over an incumbent is a huge victory.

Before other voices start whining about the results, let me just lay it out for you. Last night was the ultimate story of the underdog.

By conventional thinking, Vince Perez was not supposed to win. He was supposed to lose and lose big.

Quintanilla had every single advantage possible and was still solidly thumped by Perez. So before people start rolling out excuses, lets face the facts. The people of Precinct 3 spoke loudly last night. The people chose Vince Perez to be the next County Commissioner of Precinct #3.

Chente had more money. Actually, LOTS more money. (It was surprising to me how much money Quintanilla raised and how much it was downplayed)

Chente had more name ID.

Chente had more political connections.

Chente was basically an incumbent.

Chente had been elected by a significant portion of Precinct 3 several times.

Chente had more signs.

Chente had an experienced family of campaigners.

Chente had the establishment and “Old Guard” behind him.

Chente had support of other candidates.

And by contrast, Perez faced almost every disadvantage a candidate could come across.

He didn't speak Spanish (although he understands it completely and now he's speaking it with more confidence than before).

He didn't have a politically connected family.

He didn't raise anywhere near as much money as his opponent.

Perez didn't come from the rural part of the valley.

The Sheriff's Officer's Association spent a significant amount of money trying to defeat Perez in both the Primary and Run-off Elections. Despite the fact that Perez' dad is a long-time law enforcement officer. (So much for brotherhood.)

He was told by the Congressman's campaign team not to run in the first place.

The Congressman endorsed his opponent Willie Gandara. Then key Congressional staffers were supportive of Dora Oaxaca, another opponent. And then the final knife in the back...

The Congressman, through his PAC, relatives, and a staffer, was one of, if not the biggest, single contributor to Chente Quintanilla's campaign. And yet they complained about “loyalty”.

In fact, this race actually crystallizes a potentially tainted legacy of Reyes. The out-going Congressman took contributions from the Gandara's and to my knowledge hasn't returned the money yet. Then he turned around and invested a large sum of political contributions in failed leadership when he contributed to Quintanilla over his own former staffer.

Yet despite having just about every political obstacle in his way, Perez trounced his opponent. And Perez beat his opponent soundly in just about every single way possible.

Perez is much better at messaging. Some detractors may whine about “negative campaigning” but the fact is Quintanilla was going to hang his hat on his experience and his track record. Perez prosecuted him on it. Perez played offense and made Quintanilla play defense the whole time.

Remember the look of opponents of a young Mike Tyson? They would talk big until they got in the ring and then they would be overwhelmed by the offense of Iron Mike? It reminds me a lot of how Quintanilla was always on the defensive in the campaign.

Quintanilla was in over his head with Perez and completely overwhelmed.

Perez, with the help of his boy-genius campaign manager Jose Landeros, also won with a more solid campaign strategy. The two poured over any piece of related data they could find and analyzed and re-analyzed the data. They made changes in variables and analyzed some more. There were charts and tables all over the place and the two would stare at it for hours on end and would finally develop a voter targeting strategy that was deadly.

Not bad for two young guys who had never actually run a campaign before. 

Actually, their targeting was more like micro-targeting. They created classifications for voters that never existed before. They created their own campaign literature with a refined message designed to strike a cord with their targets. They even micro-targeted their campaign literature and customized it for specific voters in specific areas.

And then they took their data and their analysis and they hit the streets. They block-walked and phone-banked with a tenacious pace. In the cold of the winter and in the heat of the summer. And then they would take the data from the day's walking and do more analysis and tweaking.

The perfect mix of old-school grassroots campaigning and sophisticated data analysis. The result was a huge margin of victory and the most impressive campaign win.

More so than any other hotly contested race I can remember in town recently. Think about some of the big main-event type races in town recently.

- Beto O'Rourke won by about 6% of the vote when he defeated Congressman Silvestre Reyes. 
- State Rep Naomi Gonzalez defeated Norma Chavez by just 5% of the vote in a run-off election.
- State Rep Marisa Marquez defeated Paul Moreno by just a 3% margin of victory.

But Perez trounced Quintanilla by nearly 14%. If there is a bigger margin of victory in a hotly contested race then I sure can't think of it (and judicial races don't count because, well they are judicial races).

Analysis of the final results show that Vince Perez carried the barrios of the district. He won Bel Air, Del Valley and Ysleta-area precincts pretty handily. He also won Horizon City and most of Socorro. The Socorro vote was the most impressive because no one thought Perez could win in Dora Oaxaca and Chente Quintanilla's back yard. But Vince won key precincts in Socorro like Precinct 161 (Robert Rojas), 162 (Socorro High), 164 (Escontrias), and 165 (Campestre) by good margins of at least 55% of the vote or better. 

The only areas he lost were the small rural parts of the Precinct.

Perez made a key late-week adjustment during early voting that was the reason he ended up with a lead when the early voting numbers were released. Again, the adjustment was because of data analysis and was an educated gamble that was affectionately dubbed “pulling the goalie”.

That move proved to be CHECKMATE.

Perez's election night result-watching event was held in his home turf of the Bel Air area. The area supported their Highlander and it was fitting that the 2000 Bel Air grad entered the event to the sound of bag pipe music followed by mariachi music.

Despite the joy of the crowd of family and supporters, Perez remained focused on the job ahead of him. Perez stated earlier today, “...its not about celebration. Its about the work and we are approaching this with a high degree of humility.”

In his remarks to his supporters following the final numbers, Perez spoke about the people he met along the way and the problems the Precinct faces. He spoke about how he was moved by a block-walking experience in Montana Vista when he and Landeros visited a woman who was reluctant to open the door. After they spoke with her it turns out she was afraid to open the door because she thought the duo might have been from the electric company and there to turn off her lights.

Perez expressed how that conversation stayed with him and how her experience put things in perspective.

Make no mistake, the Perez victory was the most dramatic political victories in El Paso in recent memory. Most of the time it was just Perez and Landeros and some help from Perez's parents. But toward the end and in the run-off, the Perez campaign swelled to about 6 committed volunteers. Most of them in their 20's and only two of them in their 30's, one of whom was Perez.

They didn't have the endorsement of many organizations, a team of hot-shot consultants, or an arsenal of campaign funds. Hell, they WERE the hot shots.

And they pulled off a win they weren't supposed to be able to win. And since it was just Perez, Landeros, some family and some committed volunteers, they pulled off the dramatic win without having to “owe” any special interests or groups.

Later I'll write more about the stories behind the win. There were some great stories and some great young and talented people involved and its a story no one else will tell.

So in conclusion, think about this.

I wrote on July 18th that Quintanilla was Goliath and Perez was David and that Goliath better check David's pockets for rocks and a sling-shot.

Goliath has a pretty bad head-ache now.

This is why I love politics.

Because sometimes the underdog wins.

Nobody thought a young confident Cassius Clay could beat the indestructible Sonny Liston.

And until a few minutes after 7pm last night, very few thought that a young skinny kid from Bel Air who went to Georgetown could beat a 5-term, well-funded, career politician from the valley either.

Rumble young man, rumble.

Grace in Defeat

As I look at the results of last night's election I started to wonder if any of the candidates that lost called the victor to congratulate them.

I know that Vince Perez has not received a phone call from Chente Quintanilla as of yet. If I remember correctly I don't think O'Rourke ever received a call from Reyes though I think Reyes might have congratulated O'Rourke in the media, and I'm not sure if any of the other candidates called their opponents.

I know Rudy Loya called to congratulate Perez for making the run-off during the primary and Rudy Loya actually attended Perez's results-watching event last night. In fact, Loya and his wife collected all the Perez signs from the valley so that the Perez family could get some much-needed rest.

I remember a time in politics that even in hotly-contested races the opponent would call the victor and offer congratulations.

Hell, even though I'm often critical of former State Representative Norma Chavez, I have to admit that I know for a fact that she was graceful in her loss to current State Representative Naomi Gonzalez. When Chavez lost she called Gonzalez, conceded victory and offered a very graceful congratulatory message.

Now it appears to be the exception to the rule.

It shouldn't be.

Hey "Rosie"...

This is just a quick little note to someone who frequently comments on pieces I write about the Precinct 3 race (more to come on that race in just a few minutes by the way).

Memmer when we were talking about the split between urban voters and rural voters in Precinct 3 and how I said that a majority of the voters in that Precinct come from the metro areas of El Paso, Horizon City, and Socorro?

Memmer when you were saying that I didn't know what I was talking about and that I should get a Precinct map?

Well I had already seen the numbers which is why I made that statement in the first place and knew what I was talking about. But I didn't respond to you then but filed your remark away in my head for today.

So now that the race is over, I think maybe you are the one that has never seen the Precinct 3 map. The majority of the voters in the Precinct live exactly where I said they did.

Check the scoreboard Rosie...