WESLACO, RGV – State Rep. Armando ‘Mando’ Martinez has decided not to run for the open Congressional District 15 seat being vacated by U.S. Rubén Hinojosa.

It appeared Martinez would be ideally suited to run because much of the district is situated in eastern Hidalgo County, where the Weslaco Democrat’s base of support resides. Martinez, a firefighter and licensed paramedic, said that while he retains a burning desire to serve in Congress, now is not the right time.

“Right now my future path is still with Texas House District 39. I want to continue to represent this district to the best of my ability,” Martinez told the Rio Grande Guardian.

“I am still young. I have young children. I have a lot to think about and there is still plenty of time. You never know. Maybe in two years, maybe in four years but right now my mind is set on continuing to represent the people of our district.”

The deadline to file for to be on the March 1, 2016, ballot is December 14. Martinez filed to run for re-election on the opening day of the filing period. Asked if he could still switch over to CD 15, Martinez said: “No, I am staying put.”

Asked why he decided not to go for it, Martinez said; “Family, first and foremost. Secondly, the amount of seniority I have in the House. I am vice chair of the transportation committee. Being able to get a lot of things done here at the state level, I believe we would have a big gap if I decided to run for another office. I do not believe this is the right time.”

Asked if he still has ambitions to one day represent the Rio Grande Valley and Texas in Congress, Martinez said: “Absolutely. The ambition is still there. Without a doubt.”

Election analysts believe about 75 percent of the Democratic vote in CD 15 will come out of Hidalgo County. Of this 75 percent, two-thirds of the vote is in Precinct 1, which includes Alamo, Donna, Weslaco, Mercedes and most of the Delta area. The other one third of the vote in Hidalgo County is based in McAllen, Edinburg, Pharr and San Juan.

The Democratic vote in the CD 15 primary could range from 32,000 to 40,000, analysts believe, with an additional 10,000 votes coming out of the northern counties. Counties like Jim Hogg and Duval have contested local races, which should boost turnout in CD 15. A strong “ground game” or major grassroots effort is expected be needed in the northern counties, as well as in the eastern part of Hidalgo County.

Among those who have filed for CD 15 on the Democratic side are former Hidalgo County Democratic Party Chair Dolly Elizondo of Mission, McAllen attorney Vicente Gonzalez, and Edinburg attorney and Edinburg CISD Board Trustee Juan ‘Sonny’ Palacios, Jr. Former Hidalgo County Commissioner Joel Quintanilla of Mercedes and McAllen attorney Mike Guerra are said to be considering a run.

Among the Republican candidates for CD 15 are U.S. Army Veteran Tim Westley of Schertz, Edinburg CISD Board Trustee Xavier Salinas and former Rio Grande City Mayor Ruben Villarreal.

Congressional District 15 runs from the Texas-Mexico border all the way north to Seguin.