|McALLEN, December 6 - News Talk 710 KURV news anchor Sergio Sanchez ended weeks of speculation by filing the paperwork to run for chair of the Hidalgo County Republican Party.
Sanchez filed the paperwork at a local GOP executive committee meeting on Thursday evening. Current party chairman Javier Villalobos is not running for re-election. The deadline to file to be on the ballot for the March 4, 2014, primary election is Monday, Dec. 9.
Sanchez gave the Guardian an in-depth interview immediately after filing. Asked why he was running, Sanchez said: “I am running for party chair because I was encouraged to run. I see an opportunity to get in the system that I quite often bellyache about on the radio. I keep my radio gig, my employer supports me and a lot of folks in the community say they are happy I am running. For me it is a learning opportunity, for the party it is a rebuilding opportunity. We get the chance to build from the ground up.”
Sanchez is 44 years old. He was born in McAllen, was raised in Reynosa and lived for a time in Houston. He and his wife Delia have been married for 20 years. They have two children, Noah and Elim.
Sanchez joined KURV in December 1995 as co-news anchor for "The Valley's Morning News." Between 1998 and 1999 he worked as news director and recently served as interim program director. In addition to his weekday duties as co-news anchor of the award-winning Morning News, Sanchez hosts a two-hour phone-in show on Saturday mornings on KURV where he has more opportunity to espouse his political opinions. Sanchez is on the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. He said liberty, capitalism and free markets are pillars in the greatness of the United States.
“Our glorious American experience in this republic, we are the children, the grandchildren, the fruits of liberty. If what we propose to do as policymakers and lawmakers do not conform to that prism of liberty then we must at light speed find solutions outside the box that individuals and communities can solve,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez said citizens have delegated “way too much power” to Washington, D.C. “Their intentions are good but there is only so much you can delegate to someone else. You have to grab the problems at the local level and try to resolve them. We have to take care of family first, our neighborhoods second; our churches have a role in this as well, at the local, state and city level. And, if all else fails, we are grateful for the safety net in D.C. but we have to bring it back local. Tip O’Neill, the great Democrat, said ‘all politics is local.’ Well, we have to start at the local level and this is grassroots.”
Sanchez said there is a lot of work, a lot of rebuilding to do in the Hidalgo County Republican Party. A Republican has never won elected office in Hidalgo County, a long time bastion for the Democratic Party. Often times, the Republican Party will not even field a candidate for local office, leaving Democrats unopposed. Sanchez believes there is an opportunity to grow the Republican brand, if everyone works hard and pulls in the same direction.
“I am convinced the Rio Grande Valley is by culture right of center, conservative. We need to bring people out of their businesses and out of the pews and into politics. We need genuine, uncompromising, common sense individuals to come into the party, to work the elections,” Sanchez said.
“I am calling on the grassroots to come out and go to the front lines, put together the elections, learn code, learn processes, learn law when it comes to elections and we will find among all these qualified citizens those who wish to run for myriad offices that always go unchallenged in Hidalgo County.”
Some Hidalgo County Republicans have complained that unity is lacking in the local party. Former Hidalgo County Republican Party Chair Hollis Rutledge recently told the Guardian: “A house divided is a house that cannot prosper.”
Asked to comment on a possible lack of unity, Sanchez said: “What’s taking place in Hidalgo County is probably reflective of the national struggle. The Republican Party is doing some soul searching right now as to whether to continue with business as usual or whether to look deep in itself, identify the core values that it represents and be courageous enough to represent them again; to offer alternatives, despite all the disadvantages people may complain about, perhaps not having media or being a popular party, or being seen as negative or unworkable. There are solutions and they all rooted in liberty.”
Asked what his employers think of him running for elected office, Sanchez said: “My employers are happy. It gives me show content. It gives me an opportunity to meet more people, on all sides of the spectrum. Sometimes there are more than two sides to a story. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has a political point of view. Many folks in media might do the sign of the cross and pretend they do not have any particular bias or agenda. Everyone has an agenda. My agenda is liberty; my agenda is capitalism and free markets. But at the moment, as far as work is concerned, if I am blessed enough to be the chairman of this party, there is a lot of groundwork that needs to be done. I am looking forward to it.”
Asked for any wrap-up remarks, Sanchez said: “I hope nobody things Republicans are suddenly going to start winning elections around here any time soon. Like I told them (local GOP supporters) at the meeting at Denny’s, we’ve got to build the football team again. Like any football team this is in a rebuilding process, it is going to get its butt kicked a lot, a lot. We’ve got to work on the basics.”
Many Republicans at the executive party meeting were thrilled Sanchez had decided to run for party chair.
“I think Sergio will invigorate our party. He brings us energy, enthusiasm and intellect. And, if he is on the radio he can get the word out to a lot of people. We really need that,” said Sheré Vassberg, a former treasurer of the McAllen Tea Party. “There are so many people who say they are Democrats but their philosophy is conservative. They are conservative on social issues but they are afraid to change parties. We can win them over. We are going to see an enthusiasm we have not seen in the past. I think Sergio will bring younger people into the party.”
Fern McClaugherty said she wants a return of the enthusiasm of the Ronald Reagan days. “I do not want to break your recorder but yes, yes, yes, it is great, I am thrilled Sergio is running. Perhaps we will get some new blood, get the Republican Party a blood transfusion. I am ready to roll, ready to work. Sergio sounds as though he is ready to go also.”
McClaugherty said the local Republican Party has been split for too long. “We have always had two parties within the party. It is split among those that have money and those that do the work. I have always been in the worker’s group. If you do not have people in the trenches you cannot win. We need to join together. We will do anything and everything we can for Sergio.”
Villalobos has been GOP party chair in Hidalgo County for four years. He said it is time for change. “It has been a lot of work. But, if you look at the primary numbers we were able to pick up quite a bit. We feel pretty good about what we did but it is time for a change. It is time to move on. Let somebody else do it.”