Rep. Pete Gallego endorses Obama
By Steve Taylor, Tribe
McALLEN, February 9 - State Rep. Pete Gallego, chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, has announced he is endorsing Barack Obama for president.
The Alpine Democrat had earlier supported his near neighbor, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.
“I made a determination that it’s time to pass the mantle on to a new set of folks at the national level,” Gallego said. “I do not really remember the Kennedy years but from everything I am told, this is a similar situation. Obama urges us to be our best and make our community a better place. He is dynamic.”
The non-partisan Mexican American Legislative Caucus comprises most Hispanic members of the Texas House of Representatives. Gallego said he was in the process of contacting other Democrats in MALC to see who they are lining up for in the presidential election.
“I have been somewhat surprised at the number of folks that have contacted us. We have not had to call them. They have jumped up and asked to be on the Obama team,” Gallego said. Gallego said he had seen Obama speak many times and had never left disappointed. “I just think he has this ability, an almost unnatural ability. His cadence, is very, very, good. He can really excite the mind. I have never left one of his speeches thinking he was flat,” Gallego said.
In the California primary on Super Tuesday, Latino voters broke 2 to 1 for Clinton. Gallego said he saw no reason why, as voters get to know Obama better, that ratio would not shrink in Texas. “Obama’s life story and his values are so much closer to the Latino community than any candidate other than Bill Richardson,” Gallego said.
“Part of what drives me is his life story. It’s a fascinating life story. It’s more than just the issues, it’s his values. I think Hispanics and South Texas should really be able to relate to him.”
Gallego pointed out that Obama’s black father was an immigrant and his mother was Anglo.
“You had the clash of cultures, just as you do in our community,” Gallego said. “I really think his life story, getting to Harvard and getting to the U.S. Senate, shows us that this really is a land of immigrants and the land of opportunity that our forefathers and foremothers wanted to create.”
Gallego said the biggest drawback for Obama along the border and South Texas is that his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, is a household name. “Clinton is a known brand. The last time our community really voted was during the Clinton years,” Gallego said.
“It’s a natural advantage for Hillary, but it is not insurmountable. I just think the Obama folks have to work twice as hard to make sure people know who he is, what he stands for, and once that is put forward he does very, very, well.”
Gallego said he hopes to get an opportunity to play a big role for Obama in Texas in the run-up to the March 4 primary. “There’s a lot of work to be done. It’s a fascinating time because there is so much at stake. And, because of the enthusiasm for that race, I think it will help Texas Democrats,” he said.