The Speaker's Race: El Paso
Tue September 11, 2007 11:22 am

As many as three members of the El Paso legislative delegation–none of whom are friendly to Tom Craddick–face reelection challenges that could have a major impact on the speaker’s race.

* Paul Moreno has an announced primary opponent. She’s 28-year-old Marisa Marquez. Capitol Annex has the story, quoting an El Paso Times item posted by Brandi Grissom of the El Paso Times. Marquez is quoted as saying that Moreno is “ineffective and needs replacing,” and ‘It’s not an issue of age or experience, it’s about the best decision for my community.’” Marquez, 28, is described as a community relations manager for Texas Community Care and a novice to politics.

Moreno told Grissom he “thought” Craddick recruited Marquez. She responded that no one recruited her for the office.

There’s not much doubt where Capitol Annex stands on this one: “Of course, Craddick is likely behind this challenge, and Moreno isn’t afraid to say so.” The piece ends with, “Look at Moreno’s record in office. He is effective.”

He is? Look, I respect Paul Moreno. He’s 76 years old and still fighting for the things he believes in. He is totally sincere. He comes to the Capitol despite the difficulties of travel and myriad health problems. But, c’mon, nobody gets a bye in this business. He’s not effective.

I made a couple of calls to people who are savvy about El Paso politics on the legislative level. One told me he’d checked around, and he doesn’t think that Marquez was recruited by Craddick. Another told me that she may have made a mistake by announcing too early; had she waited, Moreno might have decided to retire. He still might quit, but it looks as if he’s going to fight.

* Pat Haggerty has been the subject of a lot of speculation. I kept hearing that he might switch parties and run as a Democrat. Then I saw him at a John Cornyn fundraiser in El Paso, along with a potential primary challenger, Dee Margo, who really got the political bug when he challenged Democratic state senator Eliot Shapleigh in 2006. Haggerty scoffed at the notion he of switching parties.

Here’s what “The Inner Loop,” the politics section of a local blog called “Newspaper Tree” has to say about this race:

Dee Margo against Haggerty? Nope … “I was approached but I don’t live in his district,” Margo told NPT. “And I have no desire to move.” (Newspaper Tree commented that Margo does live in Haggery’s district.)

Grissom also posted about Margo’s probable non-candidacy on the El Paso Times Web site.

* Joe Pickett. He may also face a challenge, not necessarily because of the speaker’s race, but because of his opposition to toll roads. Newspaper Tree: “Troy Hicks sounds like a candidate against Pickett, who has an orange-cone colored target on his back.”

One thing that I kept hearing in El Paso: If Craddick does try to recruit opponents for any of the above, he will definitely become an issue in these races. He is not popular with local booster types, who blame the speaker for withholding promised funding for the Texas Tech Medical School, which is finally on the verge of opening.

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