By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
As originally published by Texas Border Business newsprint edition January 2018
I first learned about Hector Uribe in 1981; he is originally from Brownsville. He was running for the Texas Senate to succeed Senator Raúl Longoria who had decided not to seek re-election and resigned in January 1981.
The following might sound like I am going around in circles, but I assure you that I am not. All the added information is vital to give you a better understanding of the events and more details about some of the players of the last century, some are still walking around, like me.
Senator Longoria and I had become good friends in the 70s, and one day he even asked me to be his Press Secretary in Austin; I didn’t take the job. He asked if I knew someone for that position, I recommended Ramón Pérez Casanova. At the time, Pérez worked at KGBT-AM; he accepted the offer.
Senator Longoria was better known as Raulito. He had friends all over the state, but his base was McAllen and their place to meet was at Jesse Treviño Insurance. It was located at 608 South 10th Street; that building is just across from Pep Boys.
The same building housed the offices of KQXX 98.5 FM radio station where I was working as news director. Most aspirants for public service in Hidalgo County met there. Eduardo “Ed” Gomez, the former owner of KQXX FM and KIRT AM, had just finished his first term as Hidalgo County Judge, that in itself was a huge magnet for politicians, but there was another magnet, he was Jesse Treviño. Gomez and Treviño are still around, I hope to have an opportunity, on a later date to meet with them again.
Uribe’s most influential opponent for the Senate seat was Republican Ricardo Hinojosa; he is today the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
In 1981, their campaigns were in full swing; a press conference was scheduled at the old McAllen Airport and members of the media were in attendance to cover the event.
I was there; so was McAllen Mayor Othal Brand Sr.; he was waiting for Texas Governor William P. “Will” Clements’ airplane to land. Ricardo Hinojosa was also onboard that plane. Hinojosa’s campaign was the reason for the gathering.
Mayor Brand and I had become good friends before; he had hired me in the middle of a brutal re-election campaign during early 1981. His opponent was Dr. Rámiro Casso.
My services included writing scripts, producing radio commercials, and newspaper ads for his campaign, all in Spanish. As some of you know, Dr. Casso was a formidable opponent, combined with a lawsuit filed against Mayor Brand by attorney Jim Harrington on behalf of the farm workers; this campaign became a tsunami for Mayor Brand. Nevertheless, he won the re-election for McAllen Mayor.
While we were waiting at the airport, I asked Mayor Brand, who do you think is going to win, Uribe or Hinojosa? He said, “off the record, Uribe.” Even though he had an idea of the outcome of this election, Brand, Sr. never stopped supporting Hinojosa.
I continued to work on Mayor Brand’s campaigns in the following years doing the same and more until he lost to Leo Montalvo in 1997. Mayor Brand passed away on December 12, 2009; he was 90.
Dr. Casso, was a well-known physician, aside from that, he was an educator, and a civil rights advocate. Dr. Casso passed away on June 23, 2011, at the age of 89.
Since I keep in touch with former Senator Uribe, I sent a message asking him to tell me about his campaign that took place in the early 80s. He wrote, “I was elected in a special run-off election on February 24, 1981. I was re-elected twice and served through 1991.” Uribe was succeeded by the current Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr.
A little bit more about Uribe, he was nominated by the Texas Democratic Party for two statewide offices: in 1996 for Texas Railroad Commission, and in 2010, for the position of Texas Land Commissioner. He said, “I’m currently involved in many things including a mock-u-drama about a politician who like Don Quixote pursues an impossible dream called, Tejas Rising.”
In 2007, Uribe participated with a bit part in the movie “No Country for Old Men,” with Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Josh Brolin. The movie depicted the violence and destruction that ensued when a hunter near the Rio Grande accidentally witnesses a drug deal gone wrong and takes the more than $2 million in drug money. Today, Uribe practices law and is enjoying life.
The main photo is from a video that was taken around 1984 or 1985 as I was interviewing Senator Hector Uribe. It was during my time working for Spanish International Network (SIN) operating through the cable TV system. SIN later became UNIVISION.
I trust this anecdote was worth reading; it has a lot of history, especially about individuals that shaped our world. This column is an original part of the content base that started this Texas Border Business.