EDINBURG, Texas – An independent citizen journalist who ferrets out information on the murkier side of Hidalgo County politics says it is time for a local party leader to resign.

Josh D. Mariscal says that based on text and telephone interactions he has had with Hidalgo County Democratic Party chairman Patrick Eronini, it is clear Eronini is trying, at best, to orchestrate a smear campaign in the Hidalgo County Judge’s race, and at worst, trying to select polling location workers that will get voters to change their vote.

In a telephone conversation Mariscal recorded, Eronini said: “She’s a crackhead, from what I’ve heard.” He was referring to Hidalgo County Judge candidate Tania Ramirez. In another phone conversation with Mariscal, Eronini claimed Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez was “incompetent” and “arrogant” and “belongs in a retirement home.”

However, Norma Ramirez, another candidate for Hidalgo County Judge, is well qualified, Eronini argued. Asked about Norma Ramirez’s candidacy by Mariscal, Eronini said: “Well, she has the background. As a business person she creates jobs. She has the temperament. She’s competent.”

Going back to Tania Ramirez and Judge Cortez, Eronini told Mariscal: “For the sake of this county, we can’t let these people in.”

These remarks can be found on a video story Mariscal posted on his YouTube channel. He calls his channel NEC, which is short for Necessary. As in Necessary News for the RGV.

The Rio Grande Guardian sent a text to Eronini asking if he would like to comment on Mariscal’s reporting. He did not respond. 

In his YouTube video story, Mariscal airs an audio file of a conversation Eronini has with a potential election worker. Mariscal said he was sent the audio file from a contact of his. 

In the clip, Eronini said to the would-be election worker: “You are from Hidalgo. Why don’t you work (at a polling location) in Hidalgo? Why do you want to work in Donna?”

It appears a man is asking for polling location work on behalf of a female politiquera.

“It is best for her to work in Hidalgo where she knows the people. If they don’t know you they are not going to listen to you,” Eronini told the man.

“It is best for her to work in Hidalgo where she knows people. You know what I am saying?”

Eronini continued: “It’s easier for you to have their vote (in Hidalgo). In Donna, you don’t know the people. The only people that you can get to change their mind is people that you know. If you don’t know the people, they are not going to listen to you.”

Mariscal urged Tania Ramirez and Judge Cortez to report Eronini to the Texas Democratic Party.

“I can say that in the few interactions I have had, I don’t think Patrick is someone who should be involved in politics at all,” Mariscal said.

“He does not deserve to be serving the public. And he definitely does not deserve to be the head of the Hidalgo County Democratic Party right now.”

About Josh Mariscal

Mariscal was born and raised in Edinburg, Texas. He said he got involved in the local political scene because he did not like the way Hidalgo County was handling the COVID-18 pandemic.

“That is what drove me towards journalism, to really look into these professionals and hold them accountable for their reactions to the pandemic,” Mariscal told the Rio Grande Guardian.

Asked where he stands on the political spectrum, Mariscal said “I am progressive. Now, down here in Hidalgo County I cannot say I am a Democrat because it is hard for me to say it when I see so much wrong with the local party.”

Mariscal believes Eronini contacted him because of his knowledge of the local political scene. 

“I am kind of prominent in Edinburg because I do know all these politicians. He (Eronini) has seen me around. I think he discounted my integrity because there are all these anonymous accounts that will gladly post things like he wanted me to post. I think he just thought I would be another one like that and that I would do his work for him.”

Mariscal said Eronini first sought him out via Facebook Messenger earlier this year with a text simply saying, “Hello.” To which Mariscal replied: “Who are you.” Eronini then said: “I was told to send you these materials.”

Mariscal said he did like the idea of doing a negative piece on Cortez.

“I did not like the way Judge Cortez handled the pandemic so I have always had a problem with Judge Cortez. But, when I found out this election was going to be stolen from him, I stepped up and, even though I dislike the man, based on principle, I did not want him to lose because he was robbed. Even though I dislike the guy, I did what was right,” Mariscal told the Rio Grande Guardian

Mariscal said the “more vehement” attacks were targeted towards Tania Ramirez. He said he was sent a video on her from Eronini via Facebook Messenger. He aired it on his YouTube channel as evidence of its existence but played it very fast, so viewers could not see or hear the smears.

Asked where both the Tania Ramirez and Cortez videos came from, Eronini wrote: “The last one (on Cortez) was posted on Facebook and the other one (on Tania Ramirez) was on a USB left at my office.”

Asked if Eronini ever offered him money to write slanted stories against Tania Ramirez or Judge Cortez, Mariscal said: “No, he did not offer me money. He was giving me the impression he was doing me a favor. But in reality he was trying to use me as a misinformation mule to just disseminate to my audience. Since I have some credibility, it would give some credibility to that story.”

In his video, Mariscal makes a plea to Eronini. “It is time for you to resign,” he said. And he issues a warning to Hidalgo County Democratic Party voters. “This is not going to be a fair election.”

Editor’s Note: We will publish Patrick Eronini’s response to Josh Mariscal’s video story on YouTube as soon as it comes in.

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