DAILY COMMENTARY
By Marc Campos




9 Votes And You're In

How about running for the Texas House of Representatives, spending zero dollars, and only needing 9 votes to win? That's just what happened to the late State Representative Joe E. Moreno (D - Houston) in 1998.

That year, then State Rep. Gerard Torres decided to resign from office to take a position in the private sector that would have prevented him form serving. Gerard gave some of us the heads up before the public found out, which gave us time to find a candidate and devise a strategy.

It was an election year and Gerard was already the Democratic Party's nominee. The play: replace Gerard on the ballot. In a Democratic House district, the person on the ballot would be a slam dunk winner in the November general election. The way it worked, the Democratic Party committeemen and women from the House district would make the selection. There were 17, so you needed a majority - 9 - to win.

Joe emerged as our candidate. A few leaders including State Senator Mario Gallegos, Gerard, and Carol Alvarado helped Joe with getting commitments from the committee members. Joe had a majority of the commitments before the other side - whoever the other side was at the time - found out there was a vacancy. Knowledge is power.

The night of the committee meeting, Commentary - before Commentary - was managing the "play." Joe was scheduled to get to the meeting about 20 minutes before the scheduled start so he could mingle and shake hands with committee members and make sure the commitments were still secure. Joe arrived just as the meeting got started. I met him in the parking lot and tersely asked why he was late. Joe apologized and said that he was so nervous about the evening's events that he perspired through two dress shirts at his house and had to change twice. I bit my lower lip to keep from rolling over and laughing to death. It is impossible to get mad at a guy with that kind of excuse.

Joe ended up getting 15 votes that evening and had not spent a dime. Not bad. The rest is history. I don't think Joe ever sweated much after that. Way to go Joe.

May 10, 2005, 9:00AM


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