GOP House Candidate Won't Meet With Editorial Board

Francisco "Quico" Canseco, Republican challenger for U.S. House District 23.
Francisco "Quico" Canseco, Republican challenger for U.S. House District 23.

Republican Francisco "Quico" Canseco says he won't meet with the editorial board of his hometown paper, the San Antonio Express-News, citing its "inherent bias" in favor of his Democratic opponent, incumbent Ciro Rodriguez. His move echoes that of Gov. Rick Perry, who announced during his primary campaign that he would not meet with newspapers to seek the endorsements of their editorial boards — a promise he recently renewed for the general election.

The Laredo-born lawyer and banker is challenging Rodriguez for his seat in the 23rd congressional district, which spans 600 miles of the West Texas border from San Antonio to a corner of El Paso.

"We choose to spend time speaking with the voters ... about the issues they care about, not the liberal propaganda you continue to indoctrinate your readers with on a daily basis," reads the letter Canseco's campaign sent in response to the paper's request for an interview. The letter highlights specific instances of the paper's perceived partiality — including lacking coverage of a recent poll showing Canseco in the lead and campaign press releases tallying the donations Rodriguez has received from U.S. Reps. Maxine Waters, D-CA, and Charles Rangel, D-NY, who are both under scrutiny for ethics violations. The letter calls another story, about $715,000 in liens associated with Canseco's various business ventures, "the epitome of disgraceful journalism." It also criticizes a series of tweets from Express-News Editorial Editor Bruce Davidson.

UPDATE: Davidson called back to say he didn't have any plan to respond to Canseco's letter, adding that he thought the candidate was "a little thin-skinned." 

"We have endorsed a Republican candidate in Ciro's last two elections — we endorsed Lyle Larson and Henry Bonilla over Ciro — so to say we favor the incumbent is a little silly," he said.

Read the tweets, and the full text of the letter below: 

Bruce Davidson
Editorial Page Editor
San Antonio Express-News
P.O. Box 2171
San Antonio, Texas 78297-2171
 
We received your letter requesting a time for an appointment in front of the San Antonio Express-News Editorial Board.
 
Thank you for the letter. We are, however, going to decline an interview with your Board this fall. Having already met with the editorial board in January of this year, Mr. Canseco believes that the members of your Editorial Board already have a solid idea of where he stands on the issues.
 
Additionally we are foregoing your interview because it has been made abundantly clear by the staff writers of the San Antonio Express-News, as well as yourself, that there is already more than an inherent bias in favor of incumbent Ciro Rodriguez. This bias may be directed at Mr. Canseco or just out of an unholy admiration your paper has for the incumbent. Regardless, it is clear that, in the minds of the Editorial Board, the San Antonio Express News, and its staff, an endorsement vote has already been cast in favor of Ciro Rodriguez.
 
Instead, we choose to spend time speaking with the voters of the 23rd Congressional District about the issues they care about, not the liberal propaganda you continue to indoctrinate your readers with on a daily basis.
 
We understand that your first reaction to this letter is to think that we are merely complaining about coverage that you deem “fair”.  We assure you that is not the case.  For the sake of argument, and because we are certain you will try and use this against Mr. Canseco, we would like to present you with the facts of where you and the staff writers of the San Antonio Express-News stand on the coverage of the race for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas.
 
Beginning with the most recent:
National news media, local radio and television stations have covered the news about a new poll in the 23rd Congressional District. Releases have been sent by our campaign, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and the Republican National Committee (RNC).  Stuart Rothenberg, Charlie Cook, The Hill, Roll Call, CQ Politics, Politico, Texas Tribune, 550 KTSA AM, and 1200 WOAI are just some of the outlets covering this story.  But not a word has been written by the largest newspaper in the 23rd Congressional District.
 
However, when Ciro Rodriguez simply appeared as a speaker at the Southside Chamber of Commerce for a campaign speech, he received a full length article, praising his ability to waste our tax dollars.  (Rodriguez speaks to South S.A. chamber, 8/13/2010)
 
Staff Writer Gary Martin, out of your Washington Bureau, was given multiple press releases both from our campaign, as well as the NRCC and the RNC regarding direct donations to the campaign account of Ciro Rodriguez, donations totaling $23,500 from Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters. For two weeks Mr. Martin neglected to cover any of the releases. Then the Democrat National Committee (DNC), the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Lone Star Project sent press releases out about money given to the NRCC and Dallas Congressman Pete Sessions.  The very next day, Mr. Martin wrote an article denouncing Mr. Canseco for playing a game of “guilt by association” regarding money given NOT to Mr. Canseco but to Rep. Pete Sessions (Parties charge guilt by donation, 8/08/2010). The facts of these two stories rested on the fact that Ciro Rodriguez had accepted and spent $23,500 from indicted Congressmen Charles Rangel and Maxine Waters; Francisco Canseco never took a dime from the Wyly Brothers.
 
In an article published on July 18, 2010, written by Maria Anglin, “Message to Ciro and Quico, Get Serious Gentlemen,” Ms. Anglin writes, “Wouldn't it be better to lead with your take on the issues you believe are the most critical for the 23rd Congressional District.” She doesn’t even consider the fact that Ciro Rodriguez doesn’t address the issues on his website, ignores the lengthy page of our website that address many issues facing the 23rd district, and  Mr. Canseco’s position  on those issues. Instead, she pins Ciro Rodriguez’s ranting and yelling at a constituent on Mr. Canseco. Ms. Anglin further ignored the fact that Ciro Rodriguez’s latest outburst at a constituent was not the first – two other times involved him actually cussing at people. Once, in front of very young children.
 
In the article written July 16, 2010, “San Antonio Congressmen Hold Money Advantage in Elections”, throughout the article Mr. Martin hits all of the Rodriguez talking points, however not once does the article even mention that in the 2nd quarter Francisco Canseco outraised Mr. Rodriguez by nearly $50,000 and vastly outraised Rodriguez from people who actually live in our area.
 
In the article printed on July 8, 2010, “Candidate has Faced $715,000 in Liens,” the bias and factual errors begin in the headline and continue throughout the article. The two mechanics liens totaling more than $700,000 of the “$715,000” that is mentioned, were simply not liens against Mr. Canseco. This was an inaccurate and false report from a writer who clearly has no concept of how to read hard documents or understand the facts within. With the paperwork in front of him, Mr. Garcia ignored the truth that these liens were between tenants of Mr. Canseco’s properties and not at all on Mr. Canseco himself.  This article is the epitome of disgraceful journalism. It began at its outset as a hit against Mr. Canseco and didn’t redeem itself at any time throughout the article.
 
In an article written by you, Mr. Davidson, on January 10 of this year titled, “ Cocky Canseco Campaigns in Massachusetts,” you don’t even hide your extreme dislike for Mr. Canseco:

“Republican Francisco "Quico" Canseco is one of eight challengers in three parties trying to unseat Rep. Ciro Rodrguez, D-San Antonio. But the two-time loser is so confident that he turned his phone banks away from the 23rd Congresssional District for four days, making calls for Masschusetts' Sen.-elect Scott Brown's get-out-the-vote effort earlier this month. Canseco says his team made 10,000 calls to voters on the East Coast. That might please the national Republican operatives but doesn't do much to help win voters in a Texas primary.  The decision could look a little foolish if Canseco can't win the GOP nomination without a runoff on March 2. He is among five Republicans seeking the seat. . . Canseco was clobbered by former Bexar County Comissioner Lyle Larson in the district two years ago. Rodriguez then defeated Larson. Canseco is betting heavily that the voters really like him despite that stout rejection, but five candidates could easily lead to a runoff.”     
 
To date, writers of the San Antonio Express-News will not even return calls from our campaign or from the NRCC; yet it seems whenever the DCCC wants an article in the press, the Express-News is very happy to print their story.
 
Now, let’s address the noise from the San Antonio Express-News that has been printed not with ink in the paper, but the less formal opinions expressed by your paper on personal Twitter accounts:
 
BDinSA has tweeted:
“Perennial candidate Quico Canseco might be a good fit in House. His campaign is $1.4 million in debt. http://tinyurl.com/22s75tp” July 16
 
“get ready for a nasty ride with Ciro vs Quico, Canseco is willing "to do what it takes." #CD23” April 13
 
“Quico Canseco turned phone banks to Massachusetts race for four days. You're running in Texas, dude. http://tinyurl.com/ylxgxde” January 26
 
“Lyle Larson may not run for Congress, but he just froze Quico Canseco's fundraising potential. http://tinyurl.com/yhfo3cc” November 11 2009
 
“Will GOP settle for Quico Canseco as nominee against Ciro Rodriguez? Ciro hopes so. Gary Martin. http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/” July 18 2009
 
These are merely opinions, opinions you and the staff of the San Antonio Express-News are fully entitled to. However, these posts display an extreme dislike of Mr. Canseco.  These personal opinions have not been disclosed in print to your readers, just merely anyone and everyone in the vast twittersphere. Additionally, there are no negative posts about Ciro Rodriguez, just glowing reviews of his work as a congressman.
 
Taking all of this into account, there is a clear picture of one resounding opinion coming from the San Antonio Express-News: “Re-print Nancy Pelosi’s talking points.  Listen to any and all talking points out of the Democrat National Committee.  But whatever you do, do not listen to the Canseco Campaign.  Do not paint a fair picture.  Do not hold both candidates to the same level of scrutiny.”
 
The San Antonio Express-News is making a decision on a daily basis that whatever Francisco Canseco has to say, is not news and unworthy of your readers’ attention. It only becomes news if it benefits Ciro Rodriguez. This is wrong, dishonest, and extraordinarily un-journalistic. The people of San Antonio, and the rest of your distribution area, deserve better from their newspaper. Since we do not foresee a change in this, we will continue to campaign directly to the people, not through your paper and we will certainly not take time away from talking with voters to speak with individuals of the San Antonio Express-News Editorial Board, who have already begun campaigning for Ciro Rodriguez.

 

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.