“SINCE WHEN HAS THE FIL VELA-RENE RODRIGUEZ FACTION been interested in Robstown and its surrounding area?” – This Is The Question Being Asked.
Nueces County, TX -- Since when are they (the FIL VELA/RENE RODRIGUEZ FACTION which is now a new power within the Republican Party) interested in the larger Nueces County region such as Robstown, Texas and other satellite towns?
The answer: “Only on Election Season.” Robstown has had lots of battles – historically; this faction has never been around to use its resources to address many of the problems.
Since when have they been involved in the socio-political and economic development battles and concerns of Robstown? Only when this “faction” is running judicial candidates for office. In fact it was during the 90s when Fil Vela and René Rodriguez first ran some young Hispanic female attorneys for judicial office?
Now it all makes sense. The women candidates sponsored by Vela/Rodriguez ran were not affiliated with the Hispanic Civil Rights Movement nor the Raza Unida Party (or what was left of it). It was not really the Democratic Party, and surely not the Republican Party (at that time, they considered it as the party of ultimate vendidos – sellouts). These women were associated with the radical wing of the Feminist Movement (NOW). In fact, Nanette Hassette and others donated funds to that unique cause. Other women were used to run and enervated and then thrown in the disposal shelf such as Diana Martinez.
Back then: Vela/Rodriguez fought with other factions within the Democratic Party. They went as far as to label the original KUNO radio “Comentarios” (not the present station) and the Coffee Club (founded by Ray Madrigal) as: “the place where Republicans and sellouts hangout.” A particular radio Spanish Talk Radio Show (airing via KUNO Station) was recruited as a media mouthpiece to validate and reinforce their carefully crafted propaganda messages.
Rodriguez, back then as he is now doing, was just a front piece instrument for a much more significant player – Phil Vela Jr. (eccentric son of the late Phil Vela Sr.). Vela was the clandestine money man: the outlandish “behind the scenes” architect of this power grab.
What they leave the Democratic Party (“Republican need to know this tidbit of information” – a few insiders claim)? This faction would demonize most of other candidates that were not within their network of control. They would hire so-called high-paid "consultants" that were really hecklers to target other Democrats. This very tactic has mysteriously resurfaced (but now being commissioned by the Republican Party).
When they faced financial competition from Attorney and politico Mikal Watts, who began to bankroll hand-picked Democratic Party candidates, this faction blasted him with “both barrels” as many specialists remember. “They wanted him out of the picture to be able to control the Democratic Party in the region.”
The faction did accomplish the above but severely segmented the party to the point it was not effective anymore. The only sizeable and real identifiable faction now left is the Solomon P. Ortiz Sr./Lencho Rendon faction. As for Phil Vela Sr. and his wife (Rose Vela)? They turned Republican for expedient reasons. They needed to begin anew; to use a readymade organization to continue their mutual endeavors.
Vela, recruited Mike Bertuzzi to run for Republican chair (and unseat the real conservative) so he would be able to posture himself in a superior manner. Vela engaged in pretentious benevolent gestures: he paid for the rent and other expenses related to the operation of the Nueces County Republican Headquarters. Additionally, the Velas opened their Ocean Drive home to the upwardly mobile and, of course, the bon ton members of the Republican Party. It goes without saying that their social class status did not differ much from the latter. Fil Vela used to comment: "It's funny how social class can transcend even political parties at certain gatherings."
The germ had been embedded. Vela, who had been raised in a politically astute family, (his father was the late Federal Judge of the Valley: Filemon “Fil” Vela Sr), had Trojan-horsed his new political virus. His wife, Rose, ran for the 13th Court Of Appeals as a Republican and won. Local Republicans as well as Valley ones felt empowered. Beforehand, she had been elected District Judge while running as a Democrat.
This election season Rene Rodriguez (Vela’s side-kick and business partner) decided to recruit – again, using the same previous political recipe -- Hispanic women lawyers to run for office: Angelica Hernandez, Amanda Torres and Anna Maria Jimenez. Instead of using the former KUNO Talk Show host (who is semi-retired now) as their main media spearhead this election cycle, they turned to a self-labeled CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER to put out their message and attempt to reach the sizeable Hispanic Population, especially Robstown, Bishop, Agua Dulce, Petronilla (areas which have function traditionally as a voter bloc): a significant voter bloc that can abruptly swing an election.
Remember that the so-called senior Republican, County Judge Loyd Neal, mid 70s, does not want any major economic development for Robstown area nor the Fairgrounds. He has his own network of interests and sites made up already. Neal was a major decision-maker in recruiting Vela and Rodriguez to attempt to capture via this brokering deal a large portion of the Hispanic Population vote. The Loyd Neal Republican candidates want to “tail-coat” themselves in behind this faction as one Republican Strategist told El Defenzor anonymously. "What upsets me is listening to hired hand and former Democrat Susie Luna-Saldana using the racial card to target Anglo Democrats. She uses words such as 'El Gringo Mike Skurka' and 'El Gringo Ray M.' and 'La Gringa Jenny Dorsey.' This incoming faction is cheaping the image of our party. Racial animosity is being used to instigate hate against Anglos associated with school board races and running for District Attorney and other offices. This sounds too Rene Rodriguez style. What will the future hold for our party? Will we, the Nueces County Republicans, be associated as the new bigots?"
If the Vela/Rodriguez’ faction (or “girls” as they are tagged jestingly) all win for office, they will control a larger portion of the core group of the regional Republican Party. In essence, a Republican victory for this faction will equate to more power and influence for Vela and Rodriguez and respective network members of the Republicans.
“Will the Vela/Rodriguez faction end up dividing the local Republican Party as they did with the Democratic Party?” – this is the question that lingers in many a political activist. “Is a vote for the Vela/Rodriguez Faction for positive change?”