Whether it was election day jitters or long-pent up anger with the local media, state Rep. Norma Chavez's frustrations boiled over this morning on live radio. Chavez, D-El Paso, who is in a neck-and-neck contest to hold onto her legislative seat, called into a talk radio show hosted by El Paso political blogger Jaime Abeytia about 10 a.m. today and got into a verbal sparring match with El Paso Inc. reporter Sito Negron.
Abeytia didn't have a recording of the show, but he said Chavez called into the program with the explicit desire to take on Negron. She challenged Negron about his writing, saying she felt slighted because he hadn't given her enough credit for things she had accomplished as a legislator. As a former El Paso Times reporter myself, the conversation is one Chavez and I had a number of occassions when she felt stories I wrote hadn't adequately reflected her role.
Chavez is facing El Paso lawyer Naomi Gonzalez in the Democratic primary today. An El Paso Times poll over the weekend showed the two likely headed to a runoff in April. It's the stiffest competition Chavez has had since she was elected to the Texas House in 1996. And the race comes on the heels of a year in which Chavez made headlines with fights she had with other El Paso lawmakers. Gonzalez has been using those headlines to attack Chavez as too abrasive and unable to work with other legislators to bring home the goods for her constituents.
"Unfortunately her reaction played into the fears and criticisms that many voters have leveled toward her," said Abyetia, who has defended Chavez, and in a video on his blog supports her bid for re-election.