A little insight into state Rep. Norma Chavez's Democratic primary race out in El Paso can be gleaned from the campaign finance reports filed yesterday, and it looks like she could have a real fight on her hands.
Naomi Gonzalez, an assistant county attorney who is one of two Democratic primary challengers running against Chavez, reported $19,800 of in-kind contributions and a $3,000 check from Texans for Lawsuit Reform.
TLR, supporters of tort reform, gave Chavez nearly $20,000 from 2006 to 2008. Chavez, who had been a loyal supporter of state Rep. Tom Craddick (R-Midland) when he was House Speaker, was among the so-called "Craddick Ds" who voted for TLR's signature lawsuit limitation legislation in 2003. But in last year's legislative session, Chavez didn't stick with TLR on their pet issues. Another legislator from El Paso who had TLR support did toe the line, though. State Rep. Marisa Marquez (D-El Paso) voted with the group on that legislation last year. Marquez and Chavez are not exactly what one could call chums.
Could it be that Marquez is helping Gonzalez find funding from Austin? That's one of the ways that Chavez helped Marquez — before their relationship soured — topple longtime state Rep. Paul Moreno back in the 2008 Democratic primary.
The Texas Trial Lawyers Association, a group that works in opposition to TLR, has given Chavez $1,000 so far.
Chavez, who is known for her hard-fought and successful campaigns, has about $21,000 on hand, according to the finance report filed yesterday. Gonzalez reported about $3,100 on hand.
UPDATE: Marquez just called to answer the question about whether she's helping Gonzalez to gather funds for her race against Chavez: "Absolutely not," she said, adding, "It's not cool."
Marquez said she's been friends with Gonzalez since the two were 14 years old, but the fundraising is all the candidate's doing, she said. "I did not connect her with TLR," Marquez said. So, there you have it.