This election season, Tom Craddick and his allies are playing a skillful game of chess. Recognizing that he is unlikely to gain any votes for his continued Speakership in the general election–as Republicans are projected to fall like flies across the state–Craddick has, in effect moved all of his pawns on the chessboard into Democratic districts in an attempt to defeat progressive, anti-Craddick state representatives.
One district where Tom Craddick has deployed his pawns is Texas House District 77, against none other than the Dean and Conscience of the Texas House–Rep. Paul Moreno (D-El Paso).
Paul Moreno was born in El Paso. He served six years as a U.S. Marine in Korea, and was awarded the Silver Star and numerous Bronze Stars. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Texas Western College (now UT-El Paso), and a law degree from UT School of Law. He was first elected to the Texas House in 1967, and is among the longest serving members of that body, and the longest serving Latino elected official in America.
Paul Moreno has a distinguished record of public service to his district, and the entire state. He has been endorsed as part of the Texas Progressive Alliance’s TexRoots 08 slate, and needs our support.
Some of the most important legislation of the past three decades bears Moreno’s fingerprints, such as The Bilingual Education Act of 1983-84. Moreno, along with the Mexical American Legislative Caucus (of which he was the first Chair in 1975), helped push this legislation through the House. He fought to add farmworkers to the unemployment compensation legislation for the first time since 1913 in 1985. In 1987, he fought for a minimum wage bill for farm workers and helped end conservative attempts to alter House Bill 72 (comprehensive education reform).
Too, in more than four decades in the House, Moreno has worked hard to provide El Paso’s citizens with a quality public education system.
Moreno was key to the passage of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and has fought for teacher pay raises and teacher retirement.
Moreno has also brought billions of dollars in appropriations to the el Paso Community. The University of Texas-El Paso, Texas Tech Academic Health Science Center, and Franklin Mountain State Park are only a few institutions which have seen the benefit of Moreno’s tenure.
A member of the “Dirty Thirty” and the “Killer Ds,” Paul Moreno is a true Progressive. He is a true champion for the poor, the working poor, the elderly, students, teachers, minorities, the handicapped, and more.
Moreno is often called two things, “The Conscience of the Texas House” and “Kill Bill.” He’s called “Kill Bill” because, over the years, he has killed more anti-Progressive legislation than most any other members. He’s called the “Conscience of the Texas House” because he is that not-so-little voice who speaks up when that body goes down the wrong path and does things that aren’t in the best interest of ordinary Texans.
Last session, following a hate-filled personal privilege speech by Rep. Leo Berman (R-Tyler), Rep. Moreno took the floor for a point of personal privilege. Many thought it would be the moment he announced his retirement. Instead, he renewed his commitment to the people of El Paso and the people of Texas:
I heard that yesterday, my city, my beloved city of El Paso, was accused of having a bond issue of $240 million, or something like that, and that we were doing nothing but educating illegal aliens. When I heard that, that really hurt me. When you talk about the city of El Paso, educating illegal aliens, you’re talking about my children.
My family has been in El Paso for seven generations. Five of my brothers, and many of you have heard this, five of my brothers have served in the military. Five of my six brothers have served in the military. Two of my brothers-in-law, one of them was severely wounded in Europe. My other brother-in-law died as a result of agent orange, suffered in Vietnam. I have a cousin that was killed in Korea with me, died, from Denver. In El Paso, a very good friend of mine received the medal of honor. His name is Sandrocio Guillen, we call him El Mocho. And when they say that they’re teaching illegal aliens, that hurts. That hurts very, very, very, very much. We should have the respect and the dignity that we as humans should give other people.
We had a good government here when Pete Laney was speaker. When he was elected the first election, I voted against him. I voted against Pete Laney because I thought he wasn’t liberal enough, and I voted against him, and I think I’m the only one who’s ever voted against Pete Laney. But most of you members that were here, during the Pete Laney era remember the appropriations bill that we had. Pete Laney placed me in the appropriations committee and we were able to bring an appropriations bill to this house. I opened up the debate in favor of the appropriations bill, thanks to my good friend Representative Pitts. He asked me to open the debate for the approval of the appropriations bill. We passed that appropriations bill without one dissent. At that time I said, “Paul, we’re doing a good job.” This is Texas, this is finally America, this is finally what you’ve been looking for—then something happened.
Leadership changed, and please, please, Mr. Speaker, don’t take anything personal, but you have your deep political beliefs, and so does your group, and I noticed a lot of changes that happened. And when those changes happened, we started going down. Tonight I was determined to make a decision, and none of my friends changed my opinion. This country, this state, is in a worse position for Mexican Americans than it was when I first got elected. When I first got elected, there were eight of us, eight Mexican Americans. Yes, we knew—we knew our stand, we knew where we belonged. But there was respect. Now, the respect, in my opinion, has somewhat diminished. And in those days, the Mexican Americans were low in numbers, but we were still satisfied because we knew that there were very little of us and we were glad we were getting at least a little bit of it. Now things are changing.
If you have any doubt that Paul Moreno deserves re-election to the House, you should read his personal privilege speech.