Ramsey Muñiz

The first Hispanic Texan to appear on a general election ballot is still fighting the system—from behind bars.

TONY SANCHEZ HAS SHAKEN UP Texas politics this year with his bid to become the state’s first Hispanic governor, but he is not the first Hispanic Texan to appear on a general election ballot. That distinction belongs to Ramsey Muñiz, of Corpus Christi, who ran as the nominee of the Raza Unida party in 1972 at the age of 29. La Raza Unida was born out of Hispanic discontent with a Democratic party that was controlled by conservatives, and it succeeded in shaking up the old guard. Muñiz received 214,000 votes, and heavily favored Democrat Dolph Briscoe defeated Republican Hank Grover by only 100,000 votes.

Muñiz appeared to have a future in politics. He had played football at Baylor, he had graduated from law school and would become a lawyer, and he was described as being eloquent and charismatic. But he ran again in 1974, drawing only 94,000 votes. Then in 1976 he was arrested, accused of conspiring to smuggle 6,500 pounds of marijuana from Mexico. He fled to Mexico but was apprehended and returned to serve five years in prison.

In 1982 he was arrested again, this time in possession of cocaine. One charge was dropped, and he pleaded no contest to another, serving two years. He seemed to have put his life back together and was

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