AUSTIN, March 6 - Patricia Hayes, the former president of St. Edward’s University, and Max Sherman, the former dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs, have officially endorsed Harlingen attorney Salomon Torres for Congress.
Torres, a former district director to U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, filed at the State Democratic Party offices in Austin on Monday to run for the new Congressional District 34, which is anchored in Cameron County.
Hayes and Sherman said they do not usually endorse candidates, much less raise money for them. However, they made an exception in the case of Torres, holding a campaign fundraiser at the Nuevo Leon restaurant in Austin last week. Torres attended St. Edward’s and the LBJ School of Public Affairs.
Hayes said she remembers Torres at college as “a natural leader, bright, with a wonderful sense of humor. She said she is “pretty powerfully impressed” by the journey Torres has taken in life, not just through his education but with the “hands on service” he has had in Washington and the Rio Grande Valley.
“He is head and shoulders above the other candidates in terms of experience and his educational background. We need to get that story out,” Hayes said. She also said Torres has “deep values” and puts partisanship to one side. “He does not throw any quick things on the wall and say, here is a great, cute, solution, take that one. He goes into the problem and he works it. He works it because he knows something has to be solved and he is going to stick with it until the end,” Hayes said.
Hayes said she agreed with La Feria Mayor Steve Brewer, who was at the fundraiser, that it was “pretty unusual” to weld the “intelligence, experience, and idealism” that Torres has with “the pragmatic stamina to stay at it.”
Torres was born in Matamoros, Mexico, and raised in a migrant farmworker family in La Feria, Texas. He was the first in his family to attend college, thanks to the College Assistance Migrant Program. He graduated summa cum laude with a BBA degree from St. Edward's University in 1987 and earned an MPA cum laude from the LBJ School of Public Affairs in 1990. He earned his JD from Columbia Law School in 1993.
Torres has served as director of the San Benito Economic Development Corporation, conducted legislative advocacy work for a major law firm in Washington, D.C., worked for a Hispanic-owned federal contractor, and served on Capitol Hill as a legislative assistant and staff member for the U.S. House Small Business Committee. Before announcing his bid for Congress he worked as district director for Congressman Hinojosa.
Sherman, a former Texas state senator, started his remarks by noting the announcing that U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, would not be seeking re-election. Sherman described Snowe as a moderate and a progressive. He read part of Snowe’s retirement announcement, noting that the veteran senator was “frustrated” by the current polarized atmosphere in Washington, D.C. “The atmosphere of my way or the highway, an ideology that has become so pervasive in campaigns and governing institutions it has polluted the system,” Sherman said, quoting Snowe. “That is why we are standing here tonight recommending that you really think seriously about supporting Salomon,” Sherman said.
Sherman said he and Hayes have known Torres for over 20 years. “He exemplifies the American story of achieving success through hard work and a stellar education afforded in this country, the kind of education you can get in this country,” Sherman said.
After graduating from LBJ, Torres had the opportunity to go to any number of prestigious law schools, Sherman said. He said he encouraged him to apply for Columbia. “I felt he had deep roots in Texas, fantastic experience here and it would be good to go to another part of the country. He did it in spades,” Sherman said. “He knows the territory. He knows what he is getting into. It is not easy but he also knows it can be tackled.”
Sherman then took an envelope out of his top pocket. He said he was presenting Torres with the biggest contribution he has given a candidate, other than one he gave to the current president.
The fundraiser coincided with 16th Annual Barbara Jordan National Forum at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Jordan was one of Torres' professors and provided him laudatory letters of recommendation to various law schools.
Announcing he had filed to run for Congress, Torres said: “I am no stranger to Washington, D.C. or to the needs of District 34. I am very passionate about my community and about my work under Congressman Hinojosa to help grow and better the Rio Grande Valley. I am aware of the needs of our area and have the know-how to address them. This is much more than a ‘congressional seat’ for me. It is about using my skills and experience to bring resources to our communities and provide opportunity for all families and our children who are the future of Texas and this country.”