Thursday, February 23, 2006

Let's Refrain From Prostituting

The Upper Valley and Lower Valley chapters of the National Hispanic Organization (NHPO) helped sponsor three debates, moderated by KGBT Channel 4 News and held at the student center of the University of Texas Pan American. As Shaine Mata mentioned, several candidates showed up and conveyed their impressions. The event featured, among two other races, the District 38 race for the Texas House. It seems to me that these Tex. Rep. candidates failed to distinguish themselves from one another.

Attending were Arnie Olivarez (Harlingen insurance man), Eddie Lucio III (son of Sen. Lucio II), and David Gonzales (first assistant to the Cameron County DA). One Democratic challenger, Alfredo Montano, was absent having been forced to do attorney things in Corpus Christi rather than campaign in Edinburg. The lonely but "optimistic" Republican, Luis Cavazos, sent word that he would answer questions during the General Election.

Among those present, I was mostly disappointed by Arnie Olivarez's presentation. He looked like he was running for president of the die cast consumer credit card club. He wasn't presentable, hunching over the podium and speaking in stiff, military-like thoughts. He didn't strike me as someone with much vision either. Arnie even failed to capitalize on his greatest asset -- his business sense -- when Lucio III fumbled his wrap up by saying "the small business owner out there has the real solutions to the problems; I'm hear to listen to you (paraphrase)," Arnie failed to pounce. Instead, Arnie immediately followed by saying....You know what, it wasn't that memorable. But, had he stated "You're right Eddie The Third. I am that man! I do have the solutions. Listen to Eddie and vote for me, Arnie Olivarez, small business owner!," it would have been dynamic. But it didn't happen. What a blown opportunity.

There certainly was some anticipation in the run up to hearing the Senator's son be his "own man," but it quickly died when one figured out that while the sultry Lucio III gave many textbook answers to first tier questions, he offered nothing more than empty platitudes for the complex issues. Clearly, Lucio's conservative strategy assumes that he has the nomination to lose.

Mr. David Gonzales seemed to be a real nuts and bolts issues man. But, he'll have to work much harder than this Channel 4 debate if he is to overcome Lucio's lobbyist polish and Arnie's money. For example, Mr. Gonzales failed to mention any of the strong arming going on by Sen. Lucio (how can any upstart raise so much money and pick up so many endorsements if not for the Senator's heavy brow beating?) or Arnie's lack of public service (city council in 1980 isn't much to run on). Well, maybe Mr. Gonzales deserves credit for being his "own man," rather than finding it paramount to stand over the plastic veneer finish of Lucio III.

Also, no candidate really discussed how being sired by an entrenched Senator qualifies anyone for state representative. Do they have a regency criterion over there in Cameron County? In fact, hearing The Third talk about having the contacts necessary to be an effective leader sounds to me an awful lot like the stuff Becky Armendariz Klein put out in her helpless race for U.S. House District No. 25 against Rep. Lloyd Doggett. She trumped her contacts with Pres. Bush and other dignitaries as how she could affect change in the Valley. These things sounded like lobbyist one-liners. And, the people roared back. Becky was trounced at the polls. (Ah, Becky, where have all the clowns gone?) I guess the people know that when candidates prostitute themselves this way they're as empty as their calling for public service.
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