In the political circles of El Paso the likely topic of discussion yesterday and today is the Veronica Escobar win, more specifically the void in professional campaign consultants in the city. I’m no different, so I’m going to weigh in about the lack of strategy within the Dori Fenenbock campaign and Norma Chavez’ inability to effectively target Veronica Escobar’s weaknesses. The bottom line is that Veronica Escobar won because she out strategized all the so-called political consultants in El Paso. Escobar’s win has a lot to do with her, and Susie Byrd’s laying down the framework over the years to create a strong base from which to draw votes from.
The election results have exposed two realities in El Paso politics; Veronica Escobar is the only real political faction in the community, and the political “experts” have no clue. Let’s look at these two things more closely.
But before we jump into that, I just want to add a quick note about Norma Chavez. Chavez jumped into the race too late and had no significant financial support. Additionally, Chavez did not attack Veronica Escobar’s weakest link – her link to deporting immigrants.
El Paso is different from other political clusters because the only game in El Paso is the Democratic Party. It is important to note that about 15% of the voters make the decisions for the community. The Democrats in El Paso are fragmented into several fiefdoms with Veronica Escobar and Beto O’Rourke as the head of the only political faction with serious clout. All the other factions are fragments, each fighting for leftover morsels.
They are the Vince/Claudia Perez partnership which works closely, when convenient, with Escobar’s faction but, nonetheless, are slowly building their own fiefdom in the community, using the Lower Valley as their base. Vince/Claudia used to belong to the Escobar clan but broke away recently when both saw the opportunity to build their own base from which to build a political faction.
The other faction is the Silvestre Reyes faction that was solidly behind Dori Fenenbock’s campaign that attempted to oust Veronica Escobar from the political scene. The animosity from this faction against Escobar derives from their loss to O’Rourke. The Silvestre Reyes political faction has been losing ground in recent years and yesterday’s results have severely diminished their political clout in the community.
Fenenbock’s dismal showing at much less than 30%, even after spending close to a million dollars, conclusively demonstrates the Reyes’ loss of political clout. But before we look deeper into Fenenbock’s loss, we should look at the other political factions left.
There are none, as in there is a void that needs to be filled. What is left in El Paso, in terms of political factions are individuals pursuing their individual political careers. For example, there is John Cook in a runoff for County Judge. Cook is like Mary Gonzalez, unaligned politicos following their own agendas.
Without a strong faction to step in, Veronica Escobar owns the politics of the city.
This brings us to the so-called political “experts,” or consultants. Again, there are none.
The Forma Group lost in every major campaign they consulted for. Forma consulted for Marysue Femath, which lost to Mary Gonzalez in the State Representative District 75 race. It wasn’t even close, Forma ended at about 32% in that race.
The Forma Group did a little better with Sergio Lewis in the County Commissioner 2 race but still came up short. And, in the County Judge race, the Forma Group was only able to muster 30% for their candidate, Ricardo Samaniego, against John Cook who ran a shoestring campaign with guitar in hand and the slogan that he “tells the truth”. What is worse, is that the Forma Group limped in at second place behind the guitar-toting Cook.
Clearly, the Forma Group lacks expertise in consulting politicos in El Paso.
That leaves the Perez group, as in Vince and Claudia and the so-called “experts” Chris Hernandez and Jaime Abeytia. Vince and Claudia stayed out of this election cycle. Chris Hernandez ran the Dori Fenenbock campaign. After spending close to a million dollars, Chris Hernandez wasn’t even able to offer a credible challenger to Veronica Escobar.
There is just no way for Hernandez to explain away the dismal showing of 22% for his candidate.
This brings us to the joker in the field, Jaime Abeytia, who has been peddling his campaigning “expertise” and being the VAN database guru of the city.
Jaime Abeytia could not deliver a runoff for his girlfriend/fiancée, not sure which at this point! Abeytia’s political savviness delivered for Katheryn Lucero an embarrassing showing of 27% against an opponent who didn’t even get the Tejano Democrats endorsement because he was too lazy to turn in the questionnaire. Abeytia tells anyone that will listen to him how tight he is with Vince and Claudia Perez and pimps his blog to Veronica Escobar on a regular basis. Where were they when it came time for them to help Lucero in a Justice of the Peace race?
Jaime Abeytia cannot be taken seriously when he can’t even get his girlfriend elected to an office that is just one-step above dog catcher!
Eddie Holguin launched his political consulting business earlier this year. His first true test will come on how he handles Carl Robinson’s race. With “experts” like Abeytia, Hernandez and Forma it is likely that Holguin will establish himself as the go to political expert in the city.
The question that remains is which politicos will organize together to form the political faction that will challenge Byrd/Escobar/O’Rourke and the Perez couple. Maybe there won’t be one anytime soon, or maybe there is a group out there about to make a break.