Rick Noriega has countered Mikal Watts’ early success in landing Rio Grande Valley endorsements in Hidalgo County with some endorsements of his own in adjacent Cameron County. The endorsers included three state legislators–Rene Oliveira, Juan Escobar, and Eddie Lucio III–and a slew of courthouse officials, including the DA, county clerk, district clerk, county treasurer, and sheriff. Noriega backers are sending around an article on the endorsements that appeared in the Rio Grande Guardian, a free-distribution newspaper edited by Steve Taylor, who Capitol hands will remember as a former statehouse reporter for the McAllen Monitor and later the “Border Buzz” correspondent for the Quorum Report.
The Guardian reported that Lucio urged Cameron County voters to show up on Election Day to help get Noriega elected. “We only vote, folks, down here 14, 15, 16 percent. That is not empowering your elected officials,” Lucio had said. “Let’s make it a point to vote in huge numbers.” The point was well made, but I doubt that the people Lucio was trying to reach were in attendance at the fundraiser held at the Valley International Country Club.
Watts’ endorsement list in Hidalgo County includes state senator Juan Hinojosa, county judge J. D. Salinas III, state representative Aaron Pena, and the mayors of Edinburg, Alton, Sullivan City, and Palmview. Of the two counties, Hidalgo has more clout politically. In the 2004 Democratic primary (the last presidential election year), Hidalgo cast 40,261 votes to Cameron’s 22,761 and had a slightly higher turnout percentage as well (15.64% to 14.73%). And Hidalgo is more of a machine-politics county than Cameron, especially since Carlos Cascos, a Democrat-turned-Republican, defeated veteran Cameron county judge Gilberto Hinojosa in the 2006 general election.