Tuesday, March 11, 2014
The "BLOOD BATH" FOR JUSTICE OF THE PEACE (and a look at the sideline figures).
Nueces County, TX – The political primary elections are over in Nueces County, yet the confrontational strategies still baffle many voters and devoted observers. The most heated race was the one for Justice of the Peace Pct. 1 Pl. 3. The incumbent JP Robert “Bobby” Balderas was facing an aggressive newcomer – that is, Eric Cantu (owner of LONESTAR WRECKER SERVICE). But there was an array of variables in the back region of the campaign that the general masses did not zoom in much during the course of the process. The reason: it has been a tradition in most campaigns that the “real stuff” (strategies) are formulated and planned out meticulously in backrooms of privacy – i.e., in the sheltered “war-rooms” ; in the clandestine hangouts where the bona fide political “pow-wows” take place; the germ of native intentions.
It was really a campaign between two admirable individuals who are rising stars as “King” and “Queen” makers in the Nueces County region: Attorney Joe Flores versus Clarissa Gonzalez.
Attorney Joe Flores put out immediately that newcomer Cantu seems to have been out-spending incumbent Balderas three to one. However, it has to be stated honestly that sometimes “political dollars” can take a clandestine bypath in a labyrinth of interests that serpentine into a muddle. Political loyalties can be bought at least temporally via financial incentives. There is a Mexican saying that reinforces the mentioned: “Con dinero baila el chango” (For money even a monkey will dance).
Cantu was facing an entrenched political incumbent with roots in the various entities of the municipality and county. And political sages have pointed out for years that if such incumbents exist the odds will be in their favor to achieve victory. Thus, the newcomer, many a time, in order to use “catch up” tactics chooses to resort to what are known as adversarial marketing strategies (which many a time due to expediency are labeled “Negative Campaigns” and/or “Mudslinging”.
A quick perusal of the political literature associated with campaigns reveal that the incumbent usually (in most cases) will unreservedly object and wistfully will question: “Why can’t my challenger run solely on his own merits?”. The concern cited is usually done for one reason: to secure his advantage in the game. So thus and so, one may ask: “What is the advantage of a newcomer over an incumbent?”.
Political activist and former county commissioner David Noyola shared: “If it can be classified as an ‘advantage’, the newcomer does not have a track record in office; the incumbent does – and thus no incumbent can a record and be as purely perceived as ‘Cesar’s wife’ so-to-speak.”
Though, JP Balderas and his supporters in the regional TV program known as SOUTH TEXAS CROSSFIRE (hosted by Attorney Joe Flores) began to apply the elemental initial rule in a classical campaign of defining your rival – that is, defining the political challenger as well as yourself (before the other side does). JP Balderas via an analogy was compared to a well-functioning “lawnmower” by the host of the show -- i.e., Joe Flores). “There is no need to replace it, if it ain’t broke.” Additionally, the newcomer Cantu, on the other hand, was masterly classified as “inexperienced” by the key leaders of incumbent JP Balderas campaign.
Soon after that newcomer Cantu via a FACEBOOK posting (that supposedly went out to thousands of persons) began to do his own stigmatization of JP Balderas – as a “do nothing” bureaucrat (emphasis added). Cantu accused JP Balderas of “tail-coating” on Nueces County Commissioner Joe “JAG” Gonzalez’ network and recognition. Cantu went as far as to state jesting at the time: “Who is Robert “Bobby” Balderas? Does anyone really know who he is?’. The initial confrontational sparks of the campaign made some take careful notice – in anticipation of other exchanges.
It grew more intense. The exchange on the media (radio and T.V. and some print media) became vicarious gratification (secondary excitement) for some fanatics much as “public hangings” did in the days of a yester history. This was not a football game nor a wrestling game, but a political match between a well-known and respected incumbent Justice of the Peace being challenged by a young successful entrepreneur, an entrepreneur who had erected a vast assortment of political signs in the respective region and enrolled a crazy quilt and hash of young people to distribute his literature.
But on the sidelines were also two politically savvy persons -- each advocating and strategizing for his/her own candidate: Attorney Joe Flores (supporting JP Balderas) and Clarissa Gonzalez (supporting Cantu). It was a battle of wits and maneuvers and machinations that the average political citizen did not give much attention to during the vying to come out first at the finish line. It is rumored that both (Joe and Clarissa) forked out their own funding to some degree to amplify their strategies. They used psychological warfare tactics against each other (i.e., false or exaggerated things about Clarissa’s personal life surfaced bafflingly; Flores, was portrayed as too “satirical” and “dehumanizing”.
As the early voting approached Cantu’s secret weapon – fired up Clarissa Gonzalez (after a hefty and meticulous review of his rival’s campaign contributions over a handful of years), came across a damaging entry. “The guilty by association” tactic was adopted. Cantu’s campaign collectively put out that his rival had received a five hundred dollar contribution from a convicted felon (child molester – who ran by the name of Rudy Rubio); additionally, the same Rudy Rubio had been indicted the week prior to the Cantu’s accusation on another crime involving both rape and kidnapping of a twenty-some year old women.
The accusation had been timed perfectly – in a hypersensitive period: right before early voting. JP Balderas had been redefined by challenger Cantu as a person that “associates with felons and takes contributions from felons.” But as all tactics, once harped on too long become a bore. Other creative reinforcement that keep the audience enjoying the onslaught have to be resorted to at some point, many political strategists have suggested in their literature and primers.
JP Balderas tried to issue a public “apology” on KZTV for accepting the funds from felon Rudy Rubio, but it backfired in that the same television station was lured to focus on a statement made by he himself on a Tejano radio station: “…be careful. Something might happen.” Cantu, in turn, asked JP Balderas to step down – interpreting the remark as a threat.
Cantu reinforced his campaign by forking out hefty dollars to buy radio space on the Lopez radio station known as MAGIC 104.9. At the noon hour the 15 minute radio spots were sold as “Comentarios” (Commentaries). At 12:00 noon on the station, Clarissa Gonzalez was one of the primary voices for the Eric Cantu campaign. With laser precision she tried to hammer down JP Balderas’ credibility while additionally reinforcing his association with a Child Molester who had contributed funds to his campaign. At 12:15, Balderas followed on the same station with his procured 15 minutes – at first, he brought in political activist Josie Suarez to take over after his introduction (later Thomas “Tommy” Holbein replaced her). Holbein brought in a slew of persons whose vehicles had been allegedly mistakenly towed by Cantu’s Wrecking Company. At 12:45, Susie Luna (founder of Grassroots Marketing) again advocated for Cantu – her portion of the program was known as “Grassroots Radio.” Finally after Holbein accused Cantu of cheating on his girlfriend (which seemed to be more of a defense mechanism after being mortared with incriminating records from his past) , Cantu bought an additional radio spot on the same station – from 1:00 p.m. to 1:30 naming it “La Ultima Palabra” (The last word).
Consultant and effective radio “mouthpiece” (Clarissa Gonzalez) for the Cantu campaign said during the campaign: “We have an entrenched incumbent with deep roots in the bureaucracy that does not make this campaign easy. Our job’s objective has laser focus. JP Balderas messed up during his tenure and we will do our best to amplify it. We will beat on the drum so loud that most of the voters will hear our denunciation.”
JP Balderas who had coordinated his campaign with a marketing company in Austin decided to change course after the blunder and coordinated with local political media coordinator – i.e., Attorney Joe Flores. Flores told El Pueblito: “I was brought in twelve days before the election to try and balance the ship and steer towards victory by using the opponent’s own words.” Flores added: “I also help put together a series of commercials coupled with grassroots contact with the Democrats. Victory was achieved.”
JP Balderas injected: “Money does not always buy an election.” Cantu outspend Balderas according to an initial review of financial reports and other ceremonial tallies.
“There was no single method that works for everyone. It was like a chess game,” Flores explained further. “The open-minded advice of using social media was well received by JP Balderas - a mixture of all media in the end helped Baldera’s keep his base, a base that did not abandon him to the end after being re-courted.”