EDINBURG, Texas – The two GOP candidates running for the 13th Court of Appeals, Place 3, are making the case that they are more Republican than their opponent.

Ysmael Fonseca says he is the only lifelong Republican, noting that his rival, former state Rep. Aaron Peña, used to be a Democrat and has only ever been elected to public office as a Democrat.

Peña says his Republican credentials are more sound because his opponent voted in the Democratic Party primary in 2018.

“We need a true conservative on the bench. I am the only candidate in this primary that has judicial experience. I am the only candidate who for the last ten years has had an active practice in the 13th Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court,” Fonseca said.

“I am the only candidate that stood at the forefront of the conservative movement that shook South Texas in 2020. I was out there telling people we need to make sure we vote conservative, from the courthouse to the White House. I have done that my entire life.”

Fonseca went on to say: “I am the only candidate in this primary that has actually run as a Republican. I have never been a Democrat.”

Peña countered: “My adversary claims he is a consistent, lifelong conservative. I went to check. I have voted consistently since 2010 as a Republican.” He said that is not the case with Fonseca.

“Now, Ysmael you have been saying that you are a consistent conservative but I have your record. I have checked. It is not accurate what you have been saying. It is not accurate. You, in fact, voted in 2018, to give the opportunity to Beto O’Rourke and your supervisor, state Representative Bobby Guerra the chance to be elected. You voted in that primary.”

Fonseca acknowledged he did vote in the 2018 Democratic Party primary. He explained why. He said it was due to a “lack of leadership” in the local Republican Party.

“Most of the judicial races in this county are decided in the Democratic primary. Unfortunately, some of us that have business in that courthouse need to make a decision. I made that decision that year, because of all the contested judicial races, to vote in the Democratic primary in 2018. If we would have had a strong local party putting up Republicans to go up against those Democrats, then I wouldn’t have to vote in the Democratic primary to have my voice heard. That is why I voted in the Democratic primary.”

Peña laid out his Republican credentials.

“I have been an activist in the Republican Party, I have represented the Republican National Committee as an outreach person. I have served as a delegate or alternate delegate to the national convention for Republicans. My family is involved in Republican Party politics and we are all conservatives. And you will not find on my record that I supported Democrats after 2010. You will not find me supporting Beto O’Rourke or any other Democrat elected official here in this county.”

Fonseca and Peña are vying to be the GOP challenger for the 13th Court of Appeals, Place 3. They hope to dislodge the incumbent, Democrat Leticia Hinojosa in the general election.

The March primary is on March 1. Early voting starts Feb. 14.


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