August 23, 2002

Chismes de mi Gallinero:

MAPA Makes History

By Julio C. Calderón

For more than 20 years I have been going to the endorsement conventions of the Mexican American Political Association State/National (MAPA) with anticipation of something new and historical to come from them. I just returned from Los Angeles and the 43rd Annual convention of the association…and it was, indeed, historical.

MAPA’s conventions are usually raucous, the real fights usually occur in the pre-convention executive board meetings, no one has ever said these meetings were pretty. This was no different as the long-running battle between MAPA President Ben Benavidez and Greater San Gabriel Valley Chapter Chairman Robert Miranda came fully before the executive board.

This was the classic case of having two roosters in one gallinero. As primitive as the analogy may be, it is appropriate. Anyone who has had the experience of raising chickens knows that if the brood has two roosters eventually they will challenge each other for dominance of the coop. Usually, as was the case when I ended up with three roosters, once the dominance was established each goes his way…sometimes though, they fight until one is dead. Such was the case this at the August 17, 2002, MAPA convention.

Benavidez and Miranda fought each other for dominance of MAPA. The irony is that both had legitiment complaints against the other. Both had points that could have been resolved, but were not. The executive board ended in what everyone believed was a harmonic cord. The two were to have their treasurer’s meet to reconcile the memberships, their dues and ability to vote in this convention. Unfortunately, the night only provided the gallos rest…they came to their meeting with spur-knives sharpened by rest.

Neither was willing to give ground, even when advised that to do so would be for the good of the association…MAPA made history…it was the first time in its 43-year history that the hosting hotel would cancel the convention.

Prior to the convention I thought of every possible ‘movida.’ For the first time in more than a decade Republican candidates have stayed away from MAPA conventions. To Miranda’s credit, he kept this one on an even playing field…he followed the rules and forced all candidates to abide by them.

Republicans like Bill Simon, candidate for governor, Keith Olberg, candidate for Secretary of State, and Gary Mendoza, candidate for Insurance Commissioner were all present. All three campaigned and organized to have members favorable to their candidacies at the convention.

While we looked for the ‘movidas’ that never materialized, we did not expect that two men’s differences were so deep and so enraged that the Biltmore Hotel management would cancel the convention. They feared escalation could bring liabilities, security was called a number of times, so often they found it worth losing the money from the convention.

MAPA President Ben Benavidez did take action that allows MAPA visibility in the fall campaigns. He declared ‘Open’ endorsements. This action turned MAPA 2002 political action to the chapters. This leaves the chapters and their members free to endorse candidates for state office on their own. Benavidez knows that MAPA’s strength is in the strength of its chapters. The strength of the chapters are what give the State MAPA its own strength to deal with legislators or governors.

The 23 chapters present did the unusual; they endorsed Bill Simon for Governor and Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante for re-election in the historical BI-partisan spirit of the association.

Calderon can be emailed at LATSAC@AOL.COM

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