News Column

Texas 'Trailblazers' Marisa Marquez and Naomi Gonzalez

Oct. 8, 2012

Joe Muench, El Paso Times, Texas

Marisa Marquez and Naomi Gonzalez
Marisa Marquez and Naomi Gonzalez

Are Democratic state Reps. Marisa Marquez and Naomi Gonzalez traitors or trailblazers?

I say trailblazers. Their "party-be-darned for once" actions last month blew up the notion that a Democrat must dislike a Republican, no matter what.

Both women said they like incumbent Republican state Rep. Dee Margo over challenger Joe Moody -- one of their own. That action showed they don't buy the long-held Democrat thinking.

Holy cow! They said a Republican is not an enemy.

And that sure put some old guard Democrats into a dither; and it also showed up the party as being one of fractured factions, old and new generation.

For so many years, so many people here have believed it's mandatory to be a Democrat and to vote straight ticket. Don't bother looking at the candidates.

That's a reason few people run as Republicans. County Commissioners Court has one Republican, Dan Haggerty. City Council is nonpartisan, but it's big majority of Democratic thinkers are the biggest pushers of progress -- anti-old guard Democrat -- we have.

Yes, Marquez and Gonzalez have made a move that clearly shows "Yellow Dog Democrat" is on the way out in El Paso.

I'm not blaming our stately lion among Democrats, Paul Moreno, for calling into Norma Chavez' talk show Tuesday and saying Marquez ought to be kicked out of the party. That's Moreno. That was his El Paso when he served in the Texas Legislature from 1967 until Marquez unseated him in 2008.

Strict party loyalty.

I'm not blaming Chavez, who was equally appalled. That was El Paso when she served 14 years in the Texas House before Gonzalez ousted her in 2010.

And it's noted that these two former power-wielders once led their own groups of Democrats -- different factions -- that punched and kicked against each other for years. They didn't really hug and make up until recently.

Marquez and Gonzalez showed by that gutsy embracing of a Republican that El Paso is changing, wising up. And it doesn't mean, as Moreno so eloquently stated, they are not representing the poor working-class people of the city by endorsing a Republican. After all, those constituents elected them, and neither has had a serious challenger in re-election bids.

On the surface, this looks like a state delegation issue. That's not the real story.

Yes, on the surface it looks like team-building -- being unified -- for the next legislative session beginning in January. They say they enjoyed working with Margo last session. So keep him on the team. For one thing, Moody is said to have worked well with Marquez, Gonzalez and the rest of the delegation two sessions ago. If Moody beats Margo on Nov. 6, he'll again work well.

The real story: It's a city, not a delegation, issue. More so, the gist of the whole thing is that Margo is a main cog in recent efforts initiated by City Council, City Hall, Downtown business groups, other business leaders and those two philanthropists, Wood Hunt and Paul Foster.

Moody is a young attorney who does not seem to run in that group. Margo, if he's in Austin, might help El Paso if legislation is needed for El Paso revitalization efforts. The Republicans are in power, you know.

Bottom line: It appears Marquez and Gonzalez see there is a unified group at work trying to make El Paso better -- in El Paso

Whereas they can continue to help as members of the state delegation to the Texas Legislature -- help with constituency issues -- they can be members of the city's getting-stronger home team, too.

Joe Muench may be reached at

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Source: (c) 2012 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)

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