Merry Christmas, Mr. Bonilla

Cross off the Texas Democrats. They already got what amounts to a holiday horn o’ plenty in these red-state woods when they picked up five seats in the state House of Reps, sprayed their donkey scent over every Dallas County seat in the heart of Bush Country, and soiled Tom DeLay’s old Sugarland roost. And you needn’t buy Freudian Slippers, therapy journals, nor a two-year supply of Klonopin for the GI Forum, the Texas AFL/CIO, or the groups former Congressman Henry Bonilla called “professional minorities” — MALDEF and LULAC — because the Republican’s amazing, pupil-dilating, eight-percentage-point runoff defeat on December 12 — a gift from 38,247 voters in Congressional District 23 — ensured the anti-Bonilla camp wouldn’t have to vege in an opioid funk until 2008. They’re covered. So move on down your holiday list.


Gift Idea for Ciro Rodriguez: Patron Saint Index

As a down-on-his-luck, twice-defeated lawmaker (crowded out by the 2003 redistricting), Ciro was little more than a turtle on his back. Then the national party sent field operatives and $900,000 to help turn him over just weeks before the runoff (with a special holiday get-out-the-vote performance by former president Bill “I love Mi Tierra … and Ciro!” Clinton).

Ciro wrapped up his acceptance speech at the Harlandale Civic Center on election night while 300-plus supporters washed down the good news (free beer) and cried out “Mucho corazon, papa!” between hugs and kisses (and that was just the men), with this final note of gratitude for his 54.4 percent to 45.6 percent win: “I want to thank one other person. La Virgen de Guadalupe!”

Indeed, Ciro’s patron saint smiled on him on her Feast Day, a Mexican Catholic holiday where the GOP’s only Mexican-American House Stooge had no power. Now who will guide Ciro as he undertakes his tony House Appropriations appointment (and tries to greenlight South Texas projects through a new Congress planning a pork-free diet after the oinky 109th inserted 15,877 earmarks in 2005, up from 6,073 in 2000)? Will it be Thomas More, patron saint of civil servants or, since the Texas Democratic delegation in D.C. is only 13 (of 32) reps, perhaps Benezet, the patron saint of bridge builders?

Gift Idea for Henry Bonilla: Time Travel

There’s nothing Henry Bonilla wants more than to get ahold of 1.21 gigawatts, a DeLorean, and a plutonium-powered nuclear ractor (surely his pals in the military-industrial complex could snag one, if they haven’t disowned him already) or a Mr. Fusion home generator that extracts hydrogen atoms from garbage or … (just go on eBay already and buy him a time machine kit!) … But how far would he have to go back in time to change history and avoid getting bucked out of the saddle?

Maybe pre-Thanksgiving, when he could fight the governor to have the runoff on December 19, along with the Texas House Representative district 119 special election (or was it the extended weekend early-voting days the Bexar County Commissioners called for on November 28 that did him in?).

Maybe ridiculous attack ads saying a Democrat gave into the advances of a big-time Islamic terrorist was doubling down on a bad hand (set the dial for 1996, Henry, and never watch Swingers). News outlets dissected his claims, saying he needed better evidence against Ciro — say, a revealing email detailing an “innocent” affair with the Blind Sheik at a Budapest hotel overlooking the Danube?

Texas Monthly’s Paul Burka cites The Evans-Novak political report, which says Bonilla should go back and dip deeper into that $2-million war chest to get over the 50-percent mark in the November 7 special election. That’s ridiculous, Burka said. Even a cursory glance at the best-seller Freakonomics will tell you money spent by candidates hardly matters at all (see Howard Dean). Bonilla was just the unlikable rich kid who hung up flyers and posters everywhere and passed out M&M’s and Smarties and still lost.

Other destinations: August, 2006, to stop the three-panel court that plunked him into a new, 61-percent Hispanic district. June, 2006, when the Supreme Court ruled his district’s design an unconstitutional Voting Rights Act violation. Anywhere from 1993-2006: the National Journal said his career hard-line stance against undocumented immigrants and stumping for a 700-mile border wall, despite his own grandfather being a migrant worker, did “long-term damage among the growing Latino vote.” (Even Governor Perry is against the border fence!) Pre-November 1992, to go back and undo that Faustian bargain made with the GOP, and never run for Congress.


Gift Idea for the Daily’s Editorial Board: Copy of Aristotle’s  Nicomachaean Ethics

The Express-News editorial board’s endorsement of the garishly partisan Bonilla ignored social and moral questions about the slab bacon Bonilla brought special interests when the board knighted him the most influential candidate (not the one with his district’s interests most at heart). What’s worse, they portrayed a Ciro win as all bad for Texas. Now Ciro’s re-entering Congress on the federal spending committee Bonilla once served on (albeit in a junior post, but we said Ciro’s previous experience in CD-28 and monumental unearthing of a formidable Republican wouldn’t go ignored!). And really, giving San Antonio a voice in the majority, as Joe Krier of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce pointed out to the daily, is the best gift of all.

The Current tradition of crashing Bonilla’s election
night event continues! And ends.

7:25 p.m. – Henry Bonilla’s election-night soirée at the Northside Frost Bank building is in full swing and everyone looks confident. I happily partake in the nachos, spicy bacon-wrapped chicken, and fancy desserts. Nothing looks Hill Country Fare-ish.

7:45 p.m. – Early election numbers pop onto one of the three TV screens in the lobby. ABC’s playing Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Is Ciro Rodriguez the Grinch?

8:20 p.m. – “This isn’t looking very good for us,” I overhear. Ciro’s lead is commanding. Nervous pacing begins.

8:55 p.m. – First local reports indicate Ciro has beaten Bonilla in the runoff election. The Bonilla camp is stoic; their candidate never closes the gap.

9:15 p.m. – Bonilla concedes the race. Fake smiles as he and his wife Sheryl trek through the lobby shaking hands, giving hugs, and using sports metaphors to answer some media questions about the loss. Most interview requests are shrugged off.

9:35 p.m. – A final farewell for Bonilla as he steps into the elevator and bids adieu to a 14-year career of Tom DeLay devotionals, special-interest recreation, and wasting South Texas’s time.

— Kiko Martinez

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