By Marc Campos

For Reunification

Texas State Representative Aaron Pena (D-Edinburg) announced recently that he will not be seeking reelection as Chair of Tejano Democrats. Pena was first elected to chair the statewide organization in the summer of 2001. He is currently serving his second term in the Texas House of Representatives.

Before Commentary, Commentary served as Chair of the Mexican American Democrats (MAD) of Texas - from 1979-1981, yikes! MAD was kind of the predecessor to the Tejano Democrats organization.

In 1993, at MAD's state convention in Austin at what is now the Radisson Hotel, there was a big floor fight and half the delegates walked out in protest. State Representative Roberto Alonzo (D-Dallas) was the MAD Chair at the time. Legal action followed. Threats galore and more. Efforts at reconciliation failed, so did group counseling.

The following year, 1994, those that walked out met at an Austin hotel to discuss forming a new Texas Latino Democratic organization. Commentary attended the meeting. (At the MAD state convention in Austin in 1993, Commentary was disqualified as a participating delegate by the Credentials Committee for improper documentation on the membership rolls, something like that. So Commentary watched the proceedings - did not "officially" walk out.) At the meeting in Austin in 1994, Commentary made an impassioned plea to work within MAD, out organize the other side, and beat them at the next convention. Got out voted fiftysomething to two. Ouch!

Tejano Democrats was then created. MAD continues to exist. It's funny, both organizations probably have the same goals - more political, economic and education opportunities for Latinos. Does the Texas Democratic Party really need two statewide Latino organizations? Nope. It kind of makes Latino Democrats look goofy at the State Conventions. It never fails. Non-Latinos coming up and asking why we have two different organizations. Even some Latino Dem delegates are puzzled. Imagine being a first time Latino delegate to the State Convention. You peruse the convention program- at 10 am. Tejano Dems meet, at 1 pm. Mexican American Dems caucus, at 3 pm the Latino Caucus meets (where Tejanos and MADfolk meet together to select Party positions designated for Latinos). Huh?

Stop the madness - no pun intended! Commentary hopes that candidates for Chair of Tejano Democrats will commit to work towards reunification. Commentary doesn't even remember what the fight in 1993 was all about. Kind of like the Hatfields and McCoys.

April 13, 2005, 9:00AM

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