McALLEN — La Union Del Pueblo Entero is taking a firmer stance in the political realm and is now seeking a progressive candidate to back in the race for Congressional District 15, which is being vacated by U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez.
LUPE organizers announced the launch of LUPE Votes, a 501(c)4 nonprofit group through which the organizations can endorse political candidates.
The organization aims to build power for “working class people and marginalized South Texans that, for years, have been ignored by power-hungry politicians loyal to corporate interests,” Daniel Diaz, the director of organizing for LUPE, said.
LUPE itself is a 501(c)3 nonprofit legally restricted from participating in political activities, such as campaign or endorsing specific candidates.
“We’ve fallen short of being able to really up our demands because of our inability as LUPE and the 501(c)3 to be able to pressure politicians and have the ability to endorse candidates or not,” Diaz said. “Through LUPE Votes, we’ll be able to endorse congressional candidates.”
“We’re actually looking for somebody to run to nominate and to actually put into the Democratic Primary, in this case, but in the future, it could very much be even mayoral elections and school board races,” Diaz added. “The dream, really, down the line for the next couple of years is to really have larger slates of people — progressives — that stand for all these values, these pillars, these issues that we talked about, to fight for those at all levels of government.”
Diaz said the formation of their 501(c)4 had been in the works for years but was propelled forward by the departure of Rep. Gonzalez’s, D-McAllen, who announced he was running for the District 34 congressional seat instead of his current District 15 seat.
The switch for Gonzalez was, itself, prompted by the redrawn district maps that make District 15 more competitive.
With his seat now up for grabs, LUPE is hoping to seize the opportunity to fill the post with a progressive representative.
There are already a few hopefuls who announced their intentions to run for the position.
Ruben Ramirez, a Bronze Star recipient and veteran of the Afghanistan war from Edinburg, and Eliza Alvarado, a director with the Region One Education Service Center, announced they would be running in the Democrat primary for District 15.
Monica De La Cruz, who only narrowly lost to Gonzalez in 2020, is running again for the District 15 seat in the Republican primary.
Also running in the Republican primary elections are Aizar Cavazos, a retired Border Patrol supervisor; Ryan Krause, a businessman who ran against De La Cruz in the 2020 Republican primary; and Maura Garza, a businessman.
The candidate that LUPE Votes is searching for, though, is one that would share the same political priorities.
“People are tired of empty promises from political parties that have failed to make meaningful change on our daily lives, which is why it’s so important for us to have a pueblo-powered platform that is unapologetic about supporting Medicare For All, a $15 minimum wage, climate jobs for drainage and flooding, free public college and trade school, and immigration reform,” said Jacqueline Arias, the civic engagement organizer at LUPE Votes.
“We don’t have a single elected leader in the poorest and the most uninsured region in the entire country fighting for Medicare for All and a $15 minimum wage, and that’s why people feel so disenfranchised with our political system and our elected leaders here in South Texas,” she said.
They urge the community to nominate a candidate who they believe is ready to fight for those goals in Congress by filling out an online form at LUPEVotes.org or WeThePueblo.org.
The individual would have to be at least 25 years old and a U.S. citizen.
“We’re going to really put out a lot of, by word of mouth and digital ads, inviting the entire community in the Valley to nominate somebody. As simple as going to WeThePueblo.org and nominating somebody,” she added.
A committee comprised of LUPE organizers but mostly members of the community, will then review the potential candidates. The person they select will then announce their candidacy just before the candidate filing deadline on Dec. 13.
Around that time, LUPE Votes will launch a political action committee to be able to directly coordinate with the candidate.
“We’re going to take some time to build the infrastructure for the candidate, really help launch, prepare,” Diaz said.
The only other requirement for the potential candidate is for them to be ready to represent working class South Texans, said Dani Marrero Hi, director of communications for LUPE Votes.
“You don’t need to be rich, you don’t need to be the top 1% of the Valley, you don’t need fancy degrees,” Marrero Hi said. “All you need is las ganas to represent our people in Congress.”