Thursday, December 03, 2009

'Tis the Season for Campaigns

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Don't Be the Goat, Vote

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By the close of December 4, 2009, we will know who the final candidates are for the 2010 primary elections. In the Rio Grande Valley, campaign season is second only to high school football season. For those who are involved in politics in South Texas, there are lines drawn, teams huddled, and candidates quarterbacking their campaigns in a tough battle over territory. It comes down to working your way down the field rather than tossing Hail Mary passes.

Ideally, candidates will not have any opponents in this election cycle. With one more day to go, you can not rule out last minute filing. Thus far, State Representatives Aaron Peña, Veronica Gonzales, and Armando Martinez have no known challengers. Only Representative Gonzales could possibly have a Republican opponent in the general elections as McAllen has a growing conservative population.

In Hidalgo County, winning the Democratic primary means you won the election. The Republican Party of Hidalgo County has mainly focused on running for congressional seats rather than local government, which tends to ebb and flow with political alliances. Even with epic battles within the Democratic Party in Hidalgo County, they all work together to shut out Republicans from gaining any foothold. Cameron County, while mostly Democrat, is known to put the occasional Republican in office; they have a much longer election season as a result.

So, what are the exciting races in Hidalgo County for 2010?

At the top of my list is the race for House District 36 between Sergio Muñoz, Jr and Sandra Rodriguez. This race is exciting because current State Representative Ismael "Kino" Flores has decided not to seek re-election, leaving the position open. Two years ago, Sandra Rodriguez was able to muster significant support for her candidacy against Flores who was the incumbent, had a key chairmanship, and was coming out of a very fruitful legislative session for his district. In this cycle, Flores is supporting Sergio Muñoz's candidacy.

Another big race in my eyes is for Hidalgo County District Attorney. On the field we have looong time incumbent Rene Guerra. His challenger is Alma Garza, who was able to gather enough votes for a runoff election in their previous engagement. Will she be able to topple Guerra this time around? Definitely an exciting race.

The race for Hidalgo County Judge was going to be the top of my list between JD Salinas, the incumbent, and Ramon Garcia, the former Hidalgo County Judge. Salinas got an appointment to a federal position and has moved on to other pastures. Just when we thought that Ramon Garcia would win without an opponent, another former Hidalgo County Judge, Eloy Pulido, jumped in the race. This race will be fun to watch because neither candidate has a recent record to hammer. But, both have faced off before. In their previous head-to-head, they had a runoff election; but that was mainly because a third candidate ensured neither got a majority of the vote. In the end, with a combined spending of $750,000 between the two, the runoff election went to Ramon Garcia with 65 percent of the vote.

The race for Hidalgo County Commission between Oscar Garza and Joseph Palacios seems like it might be interesting. I don't know enough about either candidate to say for certain whether it will be a good race. I do know that Oscar Garza has been County Commission for a few elections. I've also read that Joseph Palacios worked for County Commissioner Sylvia Handy, who has made headlines recently. This experience would be handy (no pun intended, really) should he win. In this election, I don't know that it's a race of the candidates than it is battle of political alliances.

For which races are hot in Cameron County, you can look to Bloggin' All Things Brownsville.

Be prepared to have people ask if they can put their lawn sign up in your yards, ask you if you have registered to vote, and ask who you're going to support in the primaries. It's game time.

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