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Ciro Rodriguez twice changes mind about running

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.elpasotimes.com/breakingnews/ci_4268406 08/31/2006 05:57:00 PM MDT Ex-Rep. Rodriguez may run after all (5:52 p.m.) Times wire report Former U.S.
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 31, 2006
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      http://www.elpasotimes.com/breakingnews/ci_4268406

      08/31/2006 05:57:00 PM MDT

      Ex-Rep. Rodriguez may run after all (5:52 p.m.)
      Times wire report

      Former U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez is reconsidering his
      options after saying earlier today that he was
      dropping out of the race to try to unseat Republican
      incumbent Henry Bonilla.

      Rodriguez's spokeswoman, Gina Castaneda, said people
      who heard that he was leaving the race called and
      visited Rodriguez's campaign offices to encourage him
      not to drop out simply because of a lack of funds.

      She estimated the campaign had received much more than
      $2,000 in pledges and donations today.

      "It's not about money, it's about voters," Castaneda
      said. "He's just been humbled" by the support.

      Castaneda said Rodriguez was unavailable for comment
      late Thursday but said he planned to decide by the end
      of Friday whether to stay in the race.

      Rodriguez had announced his decision unofficially
      Wednesday night during a meeting of the San Antonio
      Central Labor Council.

      "I'm not going to be running and that's my decision
      based on family and personal reasons," Rodriguez said
      Thursday morning, adding that he hadn't raised enough
      money to put up a competitive campaign.

      His campaign was $80,000 in debt at the end of June,
      but Rodriguez said early Thursday that had been
      reduced to $7,000.

      "That's part of it, you've got to have the resources
      to make things happen," he said. There were "resources
      I was expecting to be able to kick in that I will not
      be able to."

      Rodriguez, 59, was one of six Democrats who filed to
      run in the special election in 23rd Congressional
      District, which has been represented by Bonilla, R-San
      Antonio, since 1992 when he was first elected.

      The district is one of six holding special elections
      Nov. 7, the same day as the general election.

      A federal three-judge panel redrew the districts this
      month in response to a June Supreme Court ruling that
      said a 2003 redistricting of Texas' congressional map
      - led by former House Majority leader Tom DeLay -
      created a 23rd District that violated the Voting
      Rights Act by diluting Hispanic voting strength.

      The special races pit all certified candidates against
      one another in each district, regardless of party. If
      no one gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the top
      two vote-getters in each district will face each other
      in a runoff in December. Rodriguez served in Congress
      from 1997 to 2005. He has a wife, Carolina, and a
      daughter, Xochil, who is in law school in Austin.

      "I think it makes him look very indecisive and I have
      to wonder what kind of leadership he's trying to
      convey," Phil Ricks, a spokesman for Bonilla, said of
      Rodriguez's decision.

      Rodriguez twice lost in Democratic primaries to Rep.
      Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, in the 28th District, but
      with the newly configured district found himself in
      the 23rd.

      One independent, Craig T. Stephens, 47, also filed to
      run in the district.

      The other Democrats who filed to run in District 23
      are August G. "Augie" Beltran, 58; Rick Bolanos, 57;
      Adrian DeLeon, 31; Lukin Gilliland, 54; and Albert
      Uresti, 51.

      Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams will certify
      the names of candidates by Sept. 6.

      Besides the five special elections related to
      redistricting, Texas Gov. Rick Perry ordered this week
      a Nov. 7 special election for the 22nd Congressional
      District to temporarily replace resigned U.S. Rep. Tom
      DeLay.

      DeLay resigned in June, but his congressional term
      doesn't expire until January. The winner of the
      special election will fill his seat until then. In
      January, the winner of the general election will take
      the post.

      Bonilla is seeking an eighth term. The district
      stretches from San Antonio to the Texas-Mexico border
      and out to far West Texas.

      Under the new map, Bonilla's district includes the
      heavily Hispanic and Democratic neighborhoods of south
      Bexar County, and includes part of his hometown of San
      Antonio, where his mother still lives.

      Before the GOP-led Texas Legislature redrew the lines
      in 2003, Bonilla's support among Hispanics in his
      district was slipping. The lines were reconfigured,
      scooping some Laredo Hispanics into Cuellar's
      neighboring district, to give Bonilla an edge over a
      Democratic candidate. He won re-election under that
      plan in 2004.

      Cuellar's district now includes all of Laredo and Webb
      County.

      The new 23rd District has 61 percent Hispanic
      voting-age population, compared to the 51 percent
      Hispanic voting-age population in the district in
      which Bonilla was elected.
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