EDINBURG, RGV – U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa will announce he is retiring from Congress at Nuevo Santander Gallery in McAllen at 10 a.m. on Friday, sources tell the Rio Grande Guardian.
Speculation had been mounting that the veteran lawmaker would not seek re-election for an 11th term.
It was always expected that the Mercedes Democrat would announce his retirement during a presidential election cycle rather than a non-presidential election cycle in order to enhance the chances of a Democrat succeeding him as the member for Congressional District 15. Turnout by Democratic voters is always higher in a presidential year. “Now is the time. He does not want to do another four years,” said a source close to the Congressman.
Patricia Guillermo, who handles media for Hinojosa’s congressional office, said: “Congressman Rubén Hinojosa will deliver a special and very important announcement to constituents and to local news media outlets at 10:00 a.m. Friday, November 13, 2015 at the Nuevo Santander Gallery at 717 N. Main in McAllen, Texas.”
Another source close to the Hinojosa camp had a different perspective on his intentions. “I am skeptical he will retire. Maybe he will announce he will run for one more term. I always thought he would stay in Congress until he drops.”
On Aug. 25, at the inauguration of the West Rail Line in Brownsville, Hinojosa finished an interview with a reporter from the Rio Grande Guardian about the project and was about to leave. He then spun around and said, “Be ready for an announcement about my campaign kickoff in the coming weeks. Cindy will get with you on this.” Cindy Garza, Hinojosa’s district director for the Rio Grande Valley, was by his side at the time.
The weeks went by and there was no announcement about a campaign kickoff. Then, on Oct. 5, a reporter from the Rio Grande Guardian saw Garza at UT-Rio Grande Valley on the first day of HESTEC, the STEM education conference Hinojosa co-founded. Garza was asked: “Whatever happened to that campaign kickoff? Is it going to happen anytime soon?” Garza replied, “I have no news on that.”
A week or so later Garza left Hinojosa’s office to take a job with the Pharr Economic Development Corporation. Months earlier, Connie Humphrey, Hinojosa’s longtime chief of staff in Washington, D.C., had left to go work for Doctors Hospital at Renaissance. It was as though Hinojosa’s top staff members were in the know and were leaving Hinojosa’s office ahead of his retirement announcement.
Last week, Martha Hinojosa, who handles media for the Hinojosa campaign, dismissed talk of Hinojosa’s retirement from Congress and said he would be the first to file for re-election on November 14.
On Thursday, Norma Brewster, field representative for Hinojosa, was manning a booth for Hinojosa’s Office at a veterans’ job fair being hosted by the Texas Workforce Commission and the Texas Veterans Commission at the McAllen Convention Center. Asked about a campaign announcement by the Congressman, Brewster said there was supposed to be an announcement at Pepper’s Restaurant in McAllen today but it had been cancelled.
Political Action Committees might believe Hinojosa is going to retire. In the current cycle Hinojosa received only $27,000 from PACs. In comparison, Congressman Henry Cuellar received $328,777 and Congressman Filemon Vela received $142,900.
Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, was elected to Congress in 1996. He is ranking member of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and a member of the Committee on Financial Services. Here is his official biography:
Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) was elected to Congress in 1996 and is currently serving his tenth term. The 15th Congressional District stretches from the Rio Grande Valley to historic Guadalupe County, southeast of San Antonio. That region is rural; however, Hidalgo County is the third fastest growing metropolitan statistical area in the country.
In Congress, Rubén Hinojosa is regarded as a champion for the disadvantaged and has distinguished himself as a strong advocate for education, healthcare, information technology, infrastructure, energy, and economic development. In September 2014 Congressman Hinojosa was honored by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation with the prestigious Hispanic Heritage Award for his long-standing commitment to strengthening STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) education pipeline for Latinas and Latinos. His primary goal in Congress has been to reduce the chronic unemployment rate in regions of the district. By focusing on developing a highly educated, well-trained workforce, modernizing the local infrastructure, including roads and highways, and creating new job opportunities, Congressman Hinojosa has been instrumental in bringing unemployment rates from 22% in 1997 to record lows of 6% in 2008.
Congressman Hinojosa serves on two House committees: the Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Committee on Financial Services. He serves as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training. Congressman Hinojosa also serves on the Subcommittee on Health Employment Labor and Pensions. He was elected by acclamation in November of 2012 as the Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and served two years. He is currently Co-Chairman of the CHC Education Task Force.
As a senior member of the Education and the Workforce Committee, Congressman Hinojosa is widely recognized as a champion for investing in human capital through education. He is a powerful voice for the aspirations of communities traditionally left behind in America’s education system: low-income families, minorities, students with disabilities, English language learners, and the children of migrant and seasonal farm workers. He is also committed to making sure that every child graduates prepared and able to afford a college education.
In January 2007, Congressman Hinojosa was appointed Chairman of the Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness. Since that time Congressman Hinojosa has championed many bills which have become law, including the reauthorization of the 2014 “Workforce Opportunity and Investment Act”. In 2007, Congressman Hinojosa helped guide into law the historic College Cost Reduction and Access Act. Congressman Hinojosa’s leadership has also enabled the passage of an unprecedented number of measures in the 110th Congress that boost the achievement of Hispanics and African Americans in higher education. His successful initiatives include a landmark $510 million investment in minority institutions and a program to support graduate degree attainment at Hispanic- Serving Institutions (HSIs). In 2007, Hinojosa was presented with the American Chemical Society’s Public Service Award honoring his legislative efforts to help students pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.
In 2008, Congressman Hinojosa played an instrumental role in successfully ushering through Congress the first reauthorization of the Higher Education Act in 10 years. Signed into law by President Obama, the Higher Education Opportunity Act will provide greater access to higher education for every student. Specifically, the legislation will provide students with consumer-friendly information on college pricing and the factors driving tuition increases. It also will increase the authorized Pell grant maximum to $6,000 by 2015, streamline the federal financial aid application process, and increase student financial aid and support programs for veterans. Hinojosa also successfully added a provision that will for the first time establish a program, authorized at $100 million, to help set up long overdue graduate programs at Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSIs).
On March 30, 2010, Congressman Hinojosa joined President Barack Obama for the signing of H.R. 4871: The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. This legislation represents the single largest increase in student financial aid since the G.I. bill was signed in 1945. This bill invests $2.55 billion over 10 years in historically Black Colleges and Universities and in Hispanic-Serving Institutions and other Minority Serving Institutions.
During his 19 years in Congress, Congressman Hinojosa has also succeeded in vaulting Hispanic-Serving Institutions to a position of prominence in higher education. In the 1998 amendments to the Higher Education Act, he succeeded in establishing a separate title of the Act dedicated to the development of HSIs. Since that time, funding for HSIs has grown from $12 million to nearly $221 million in FY12.
As the former chairman of the Education Task Force for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressman Hinojosa ensures that federal education policy never loses sight of the youngest and fastest growing population in the country – Hispanic Americans. By focusing on a group of proven federal education programs that are critical to the Hispanic community, often referred to as the Hispanic Education Action Plan (HEAP), Hinojosa has helped to secure dramatic increases in resources that enrich Hispanic communities. In the 111th Congress he chaired the Commerce/International Relations taskforce.
On the House Financial Services Committee, Congressman Hinojosa serves on two Subcommittees, the Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises and the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit. Congressman Hinojosa is widely recognized as a leader on issues affecting the underserved, from banking to insurance. He and Congresswoman Judy Biggert co-founded the House Financial Literacy and Economic Education Caucus in 2004, which currently numbers 87 members from both sides of the aisle.
To address the plight of families in his district and across rural America, Congressman Hinojosa formed the Rural Housing Caucus to bring national attention to the scarcity of house financing in rural areas. He introduced legislation to improve the situation and is working with his colleagues and advocates towards the Caucus’s goal.
Congressman Hinojosa has received numerous awards and recognitions including the naming of two new elementary schools in his honor, the Rubén Hinojosa Highway and the Hinojosa Industrial Park in the Delta Region, and a Regents Endowment Professorship in perpetuity at The University of Texas in Austin, all bearing his name. Congressman Hinojosa is also the recipient of prestigious awards such as the Hispanic Heritage Award from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation for his unflagging support of STEM field education and careers. The Hispanic Heritage Awards were established by The White House in 1987 to commemorate the creation of Hispanic Heritage Month in America. The Hispanic Heritage Awards are considered among the “highest honor for Latinos by Latinos” and recognize notable Latinos who have made a positive impact on America. Congressman Hinojosa is also the recipient of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) 2015 Award for Lifetime Achievement, Excellence in Government.
Prior to his election, Congressman Hinojosa served twenty years as President and Chief Financial Officer of a family-owned food processing company, H&H Foods. He earned a Bachelors in Business Administration and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Texas in Austin and in Edinburg, respectively. He is married to Martha Lopez Hinojosa and has one son, Ruben Jr., and four daughters Laura, Iliana, Kaitlin and Karén.
Editor’s Note: Reporter Steve Taylor assisted with this story from McAllen, Texas.