EDINBURG, January 21 - When Miriam Martinez lost her bid to become state representative for District 41 in McAllen last year she told reporters that her next race would be for something bigger.
There was speculation that the TV and radio personality might run for Congressional District 15, currently held by U.S. Rep. Hinojosa, D-Mercedes. In fact, the Edinburg Republican says she has even greater ambitions. She has told the Guardian she plans to run for governor of Texas in 2014.
“It is true. I am running for governor of Texas. I have contacted the Texas Ethics Commission, the Republican Party of Texas and the Hispanic Republicans of Texas,” Martinez said, in a telephone interview. “I will be mounting a serious, disciplined and focused campaign. It is a dream come true.”
Asked if she could mount a serious primary campaign, Martinez said who would have thought another Hispanic, Ted Cruz, could cause a major upset and defeat frontrunner David Dewhurst in the race for U.S. Senate. “I have thought long and hard about this. I believe I can mount a strong, aggressive campaign,” she said.
Martinez, aged 40, was born and raised in Reynosa, Mexico. She became a U.S. citizen in 2010. She comes from humble beginnings. Her mother was an orphan who cleaned houses in Houston and later worked on the deli and bakery counter at an HEB store in McAllen. Her father, who died recently, was an ‘obrero’ for PEMEX for 34 years.
Martinez could face Gov. Rick Perry and Greg Abbott, the current attorney general, in a high-profile Republican primary race for governor in 2014. She said she is not fazed by such heavyweight opposition and would be able to mount a credible campaign. She said told the Guardian she has “been inspired” by her involvement in the Republican State Leadership Committee’s ‘Future Majority Project’ and has had some “high powered meetings” in recent weeks in preparation for the run. “You have to be your own person and I will be. People are very intelligent. They will decide if I fit the bill for the governor. I can promise I will work hard for everyone and that will be the key to my success,” she said.
Martinez was involved in an interesting race for the Texas House last year. Early on, it looked as though she would run as a Democrat, showing interest in House Districts 35, 40, and 41. She settled on District 41, which is anchored in McAllen, but switched to the Republican Party after complaining that political powerbrokers were pressuring her to drop out of the Democratic primary in order to give McAllen attorney and former Hidalgo County Democratic Party Chair Bobby Guerra a clear run.
Martinez lost to Guerra in the general election, securing 38.27 percent of the vote. The bruising race was marred by a lot of negative advertising. Following her defeat, Martinez launched Red Hot Texas Politics, a radio show that airs lunchtime on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on Papalote 1580 A.M.
Martinez said he campaign would be historic, pointing out Texas that has not had a Hispanic governor since it entered the union in 1846. She says it looks increasingly likely that George P. Bush, who is Hispanic, will run for land commissioner, rather than governor. She believes this decision opens the door for her, noting that the Republican Party is desperate to promote more Hispanic candidates and win over more Hispanic voters. “The Republican Party has to adapt to these changing times and I can help,” Martinez said.
Martinez also points out that Texas has only had two women governors since it joined the union in 1846. They were Ann Richards in the 1990s and another Miriam, Miriam A. “Ma” Ferguson in the 1920s and 1930s.
“I do not believe in discrimination. I believe in respecting constituents and their needs. It is very important for me to take that path of transparency. We hear a lot of talk and promises about job creation, education, child support, and immigration. It is a very long list but one solution is taking government out of the way and empowering the people. I just think it’s time for a woman to do the job,” Martinez said.
Martinez added that she has taken to heart the advice former president and Texas governor George W. Bush gave her last year: “Go raise hell, Miriam.”