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El Paso Democratic Party denounces, shuns state reps Marquez and Gonzalez

By Maria Garcia, MariaG@kvia.com.
Published On: Oct 11 2012 08:28:45 AM CDT
Updated On: Dec 25 2012 05:28:09 PM CST

Reporter: Maria Garcia

EL PASO, Texas -

The El Paso County Democratic Party has denounced and shunned State Representatives Marisa Marquez and Naomi Gonzalez for their supportive words of a Republican colleague, while the two young lawmakers said the party is trying to 'dismantle the delegation's unity' and also turning voters off with their 'pettiness.'

El Paso County Democratic Party Chair Rick Melendrez said the party's executive committee requested the national and state Democratic party strip Marquez and Gonzalez of any benefits and advantages of being affiliated with the party. Melendrez, after a brief phone conversation, said he'd call back to set up an interview ABC-7 requested, but did not do so.

Melendrez went on recond Wednesday, saying the two lawmakers had "betrayed the trust to the party." He also, according to the El Paso Times, speculated if Texans for Lawsuit Reform, which contributes to the campaign of all three lawmakers had asked Gonzalez and Marquez to support Margo. When ABC-7 posed that question to Gonzalez, she said no organization asked or encouraged their support. "Absolutely not. There is no price on my integrity."

The division stems from Marquez and Gonzalez's quotes in recent campaign literature that fellow State Rep. and Republican Dee Margo sent to voters. In the mailers, Marquez is quoted as saying: "While I do not agree with Dee's every vote, I appreciate all he has done to support my office and good local policy." Gonzalez, in the mailer, calls Margo an "ally in our fight for a better El Paso."

Gonzalez, in an interview Wednesday, said the quotes were not an endorsement and the Democratic Party's reaction is extreme and shocked her. "I said something nice about someone. That's really what this boils down to.  El Paso has so much that we need to do. We are functioning well as a delegation that it just seemed to me to be the right thing to do to say something nice about a colleague."

Democrat and Margo's opponent, Joe Moody said Margo is on the wrong side of the voting spectrum. "I think the record is very clear where Dee Margo stood on the issues that are important to El Paso. He slashed funding in our public schools, pre-k funding was cut to the bone. Tutoring were  programs removed. He was the lone vote in the El Paso delegation on that (budget) and I think that's failing our community."

Gonzalez said she does not agree with Margo's voting record but said he benefits the delegation. "He works well with us. He runs defense with the Republican Party with some of the bills we try to pass, he's very supportive of the bills we do try to pass. He sits on appropriations and he gives us inside info... Not necessarily inside information but he gives us information that's important to know when it comes to budget issues. Again, do I agree with the way he votes -- absolutely not, but it's important to have that understanding about what's happening within the Republican party so that we're well informed."

Moody said Marquez and Gonzalez are free to support or endorse anyone they'd like. When asked if he supported the party's decision to exile them, he said : "That's their decision and their decision alone. I'm focused squarely on this campaign."

Other Democrats are caught in tricky political territory. "You know unfortunately, I feel like I'm caught in the middle. Marisa Marquez is a friend of mine. But I'm also a friend of Joe Moody and a strong supporter," said Sheriff Richard Wiles on Wednesday. Wiles has officially endorsed Moody. "I think the Democratic party has to do what it needs to do to ensure that its members are supporting other members that have the same ideas about what should occur in this country ... the divisiveness comes in when we as democrats don't support each other and what we're trying to do for this community and this state," Wiles added.

Moody said Marquez and Gonzalez's support of Margo will most likely not sway voters. "Elections very rarely come down to endorsements. It's about the records and there's two very clear records in this election."

At a Westside Democratic Party meeting Wednesday night, President Ken Sutherland said they stood behind the County Democratic Party's request.  "We support the El Paso County Democratic party but more importantly we support Joe Moody," said Sutherland.

Gonzalez said the in-fighting is a distraction and destructive to the party's goals. "If I can't say something nice about someone, I think we've gone too far in being polarized ... this level of pettiness really diminishes all that we need to do and it really shows us why people are turned off by the political process."


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