As you all likely know, today is Election Day for Veronica Escobar. Anyone that is tuned into El Paso politics knows that there are only two likely scenarios for today, 1. Veronica Escobar becomes the next Congresswoman of El Paso, or 2. Veronica Escobar ends her political career. What? What about a runoff? What about Norma Chavez?
All the polling data that I have seen shows Veronica Escobar winning outright tonight. More recent polls show that Escobar has lost some momentum in her campaign, but it looks like she will pull 50% of those who cast a vote this election cycle.
As we have discussed before, and anyone that follows El Paso politics likely knows, Dori Fenenbock topped out at about 30-40% of the expected votes cast. The issue for Fenenbock is that she was perceived as too Republican and too Anglo. This is not an indictment of Fenenbock, it is just the unfortunate political reality of El Paso. Keep in mind that the voters who cast a vote represent only about 10% of the city’s electorate. It is their views that are being elected.
There are some political strategists, mainly in Fenenbock’s corner, who argue that Fenenbock was not topped out at or below 40% of the voters casting a vote this cycle. Unfortunately for them, this is dispelled when the mailers asking Republicans to cross-over and vote in the Democratic primary were sent. Whether Fenenbock approved of the cross-over strategy or if it was part of her campaign is immaterial, because the mailers were sent, and the Democratic Party leadership reacted to them.
This brings us to the link of this election – beyond the special interest factors that weigh heavily in El Paso politics – the notion that this election will put the first Latina from Texas in Congress. Both Norma Chavez and Veronica Escobar are Latina women and thus either could have used this factor as a voter trigger. Fenenbock, as already pointed out, was too Anglo to qualify for this trigger.
Veronica Escobar had the advantage, both in timing and in resources. Norma Chavez announced too late her candidacy and did not pursue the needed strategy to force Escobar into an uncomfortable position – her connection to Donald Trump.
Some political observers still argue that Escobar’s husband’s work as an immigration judge ordering immigrants deported would not have much of an impact on the decision made by the voters. The fallacy in this notion is quickly dispelled by Escobar’s reaction to Fenenbock and the PAC pointing this out to voters recently.
For Norma Chavez to have had an affect on the outcome, she needed to pound on Escobar’s connection to immigrant deportations and Trump’s politics. She didn’t. That strategy would have moved the needle sufficiently to force Escobar into a runoff.
Tonight, the debates and the arguments will be moot. If Veronica Escobar ends up in a runoff, it will be the Donald Trump nexus that will be the reason she did. It is this link to Donald Trump that will hamper Escobar’s ability to prevail in the runoff election, and thus will likely be the end of her political career. On the other hand, if Escobar squeaks by to win outright, it will also be the Trump-connection that eroded her voter engagement.
Tonight, we will all know the answer that everyone wants to know, but the arguments and the analysis will begin tomorrow and continue throughout the week.