EDINBURG, Texas – A Who’s Who of Hidalgo County leaders attended a campaign fundraiser for Congressional District 15 runoff candidate Michelle Vallejo.
The event was co-hosted by Edinburg Mayor Ramiro Garza and Hidalgo County District Clerk Laura Hinojosa and held at Palenque Grill in Edinburg.
The special guest was U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso.
Those in attendance included the former Congressman for District 15, Rubén Hinojosa and his wife Marty, state District Judge Fernando Mancias, Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez, Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra, Hidalgo County Clerk Arturo Guajardo, Jr., Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez, the Democratic Party nominee to be Hidalgo County’s next district attorney, Terry Palacios, defeated CD 15 candidate John Rigney Villarreal, and Roberto ‘Bobby’ Villarreal of investment bankers Estrada Hinojosa.
Rigney Villarreal, a businessman and attorney, was narrowly defeated in the CD 15 Democratic Party primary. He came in third, just behind Vallejo.
“To all my friends who came out and supported me for my campaign. After much consideration I have decided to support the candidate who I believe is doing this for the same reason I was, to truly serve the people,” Rigney Villarreal said, in a tweet.
“I ask for your support for Michelle Vallejo for Congress.”
An attendee who did not wish to be identified said he was impressed with the remarks of Rep. Escobar and Vallejo, a small business owner from Alton, Texas.
“This runoff is getting interesting. Ruben seemed to be charging ahead but now he is losing his luster. Michelle has gone around quietly and efficiently. She has introduced herself to the movers and shakers in this community and they have been very impressed,” the attendee said.
The person, who works in public affairs, was referring to Vallejo’s opponent in the CD 15 Democratic Party primary runoff, Ruben Ramirez.
The media is not usually invited to campaign fundraisers because reporters can inhibit those that want to give the candidate a campaign check. The person who gave an interview to the Rio Grande Guardian said he did not want to be named for this reason, but also because he knows Ramirez well.
“I have to say, Michelle is very impressive. She talked about how proud of this region she is and how people that do not live on the border get the border wrong,” the person stated.
“She said would go to Washington to tell the real story of the border, along with Rep. Veronica Escobar and others. She spoke about the richness of the border, the charm and the character of the Valley. I was very impressed.”
The person noted that Vallejo was initially thought of as a grassroots candidate because she has been endorsed by LUPE Votes and the Tejano Democrats. But, he said, her appeal is now growing in different strata.
“Michelle is very grassroots, no question about it, but she is getting the support of local leaders. They want someone who knows our community but who will not be a lightweight when they get to Washington, D.C.,” the attendee said.
“There is a lot of substance there, a lot of wisdom. She is very bright and I think she is going to win. She is going to beat Ruben and the Monica.”
The person was referring to Monica De La Cruz, the Republican candidate for CD 15.
The person added: “With Michelle, there is no baggage. Both Ruben and Monica have real baggage.”
Asked what Rep. Escobar had to say, the public affairs expert said: “Veronica was outstanding. She spoke in English and Spanish. She said we need another Latina from the Texas border. She is so knowledgable about the issues. She knows the layers and the textures of the border. She was very, very good.”
Support for Ruben Ramirez
Ramirez, an attorney, veteran and former educator from Edinburg, has his supporters. Most notably U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who recently penned an op-ed for the Rio Grande Guardian extolling the virtues of Ramirez.
Ramirez recently announced he had won the support of Hidalgo County Commissioner Ellie Torres.
“In my time as Commissioner, I have focused on the basics – public service, quality of life, and making the most of our resources – and that’s why I’m endorsing Ruben Ramirez for the Texas Fifteenth Congressional District,” Torres said.
“As a former educator, like Ruben, his candidacy makes me energetic and hopeful for the future of public service and excited to call TX-15 my home. I am very proud that our community produces upstanding citizens who do what’s right without hesitation and volunteer for public service – like Ruben did in Afghanistan and like he is doing now here at home. Ruben has a clear-eyed view of the issues that matter most to families in South Texas, and I’m proud to stand alongside him in the fight to make the TX-15th an even better place to call home.”
Ramirez said he was thrilled to secure Torres’ endorsement.
“Commissioner Torres has been a fierce advocate for her constituents and has made delivering for working families on kitchen table issues her priority. Like Commissioner Torres, I will put my energy toward ensuring that families and children in South Texas have every opportunity to succeed and thrive, that our communities are safe from the threat of flooding, and that our roads and infrastructure are well-maintained. I look forward to working with her to bring increased federal funding to address these incredibly necessary projects in our rapidly growing region,” Ramirez said.
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