The Hidalgo County Democratic Party held a private mixer Thursday night for 2018-2020 precinct chairs and attorneys vying for the party’s nomination for the 93rd District Court.
The event was not open to the public nor media and — according to the Facebook event — was “by invitation only and open only to 2018-2020 precinct chairs, elected officials, candidates and those seeking nomination as Democrats.”
Incoming party chair Norma Ramirez, who officially takes office June 11, organized the event for the party’s approximately 70 precinct chairs who will be tasked with nominating someone to run on the Democratic ticket for 93rd District Court judge in November’s general election.
The position opened in April after long-time judge Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado announced his retirement amid his federal bribery charges.
Attorneys vying for the party’s nomination include Ted Lopez, outgoing Democratic party chair Ric Godinez, retired district court judge Fernando Mancias and Edinburg school district board member Juan “Sonny” Palacios Jr.
The candidate elected in November will serve the remainder of Delgado’s term, which ends in 2020. Given that most incumbent judges in Hidalgo County win re-election and rarely face opposition, the candidate could very well sit on the bench until retirement.
Ramirez said the event was closed to media and the public per the wishes of two of the four potential candidates, who “preferred for it to be a closed event” and whose names she wouldn’t disclose. The candidates covered the costs of the event, she said, which included renting out Nomad Shrine Club, food and non-alcoholic drinks and hiring a DJ, noting, “we have to be very respectful.”
“When you have a crowd, you just never know what one person might do,” Ramirez said. “We expect to have a very professional group and we expect to have a group of high moral standards and integrity. If you have one person (a member of the public) that has an outburst, then the media focuses on that.”
Candidates were given three minutes to address attendees as a whole, and then were able to speak individually with precinct chairs.
Candidates were only allowed to bring four guests, a precinct chair confirmed.
Godinez said he did not find it “inappropriate” for the event to be closed to the public.
“Norma’s doing a good job to try to create a cohesive group (of precinct chairs) so they can work together, not just on the nomination process but to get votes in November,” Godinez said. “The nomination process where chairs pick sides is not good for that.”
“If something was trying to be hidden, I would say something and I have no doubt that there will be something more (for the public) in the future,” Godinez said.
The local Democratic Party will begin accepting and vetting candidate applications June 11, Ramirez said, adding that the party is close to finalizing the nomination process.