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Let the governor's race begin

By Ken Herman
Feb. 12, 2013 at 11 p.m.

We have our first announced 2014 gubernatorial candidate, and I see no need for any others. For pure entertainment value, it'll be hard to do better than Republican Miriam Martinez, a Rio Grande Valley resident who's moving to Austin.

Her candidacy was announced this past week in a release from a former Martinez business partner touting her as "a renowned international journalist," as well as a small-business owner and losing 2012 candidate for a Texas House seat.

I had been unaware of Martinez's international renown as a journalist. But that's just me.

With a past in South Texas television stations, Martinez, 40, hosts the thrice-weekly, hour-long "Red Hot Texas Politics with Miriam Martinez" on KIRT radio in the Rio Grande Valley. Martinez pays the station to air her show.

She told me she's done a variety of things at border-area TV stations, including selling ads. The McAllen Monitor, in a story about her candidacy, said that before her 2012 House race she was "perhaps best known for her broadcast work at Univision and an interview with the San Antonio Express-News about her extensive cosmetic surgery."

Martinez told the Monitor, "I'm your Hispanic Margaret Thatcher; half Eva Peron and a little touch of Madonna."

And the Hispanic Margaret Thatcher is sure she can beat potential GOP primary foes Gov. Rick Perry and state Attorney General Greg Abbott.

"I don't see Abbott as a threat," she told the McAllen paper, "I don't see Perry as a threat. The difference between them and myself is I'm Martinez. And there are more Martinez(es) in Texas than Abbott(s) and Perry(s)."

Martinez, who was born in Reynosa, Mexico, and became a U.S. citizen in 2010, initially ran as a Democrat in her losing bid last year for a Texas House seat. She switched to the GOP primary and got 54 percent of the vote in defeating a guy who dropped out of the race because of illness.

She got 38 percent in losing to Democrat Robert Guerra in the general election in the heavily Democratic district.

"The level of corruption in South Texas is amazing," Martinez told me, adding, "I've been a journalist and I've been around all that, and I'm sick and tired of it."

I get a vibe that she's something of a self-promoter, but what politician (and what journalist) isn't? She harbors a favorable view of the journalistic skills she showed after working her way up from receptionist.

"I would bring the exclusive stories. I was the go-getter. I intimidated and scared everybody," she said.

Martinez recounted a visit by then-Gov. George W. Bush to her area.

"I told my camera guy, 'You need to be ready because I'm going to interview George W. Bush.' He (the camera guy, not Bush) laughed at me. As soon as he arrived, I was right there. He (Bush) was holding my arm and I said, 'Are you ready to convert a Democrat into a Republican?' We had a nice conversation, and everybody was in shock," Martinez recalled.

That is some prize-winning journalism right there.

And speaking of prize-winning journalism, I was quite the go-getter in delving into Martinez's cosmetic surgery, a topic I don't recall broaching with any other politician.

Martinez was miffed at the questioning. I, far above such trivial matters, didn't feel good about it either. But I knew you'd be interested.

In a 2005 report about cosmetic surgery in Mexico, the San Antonio Express-News included a story about south-of-the-border procedures that went well.

"After bearing two children, Univision broadcaster Miriam Martinez began to worry at the age of 27 how she looked on camera," the story began. "Blond, good-looking and still petite, Martinez wanted plastic surgery to correct what she perceived as flaws."

Martinez offered a pretty specific comment about the surgery. Let's just say it involved something resulting from keeping her kids well-nourished when they were young. She told me, "I don't call it extensive, but it was something that was needed."

She was pleased with the results and wound up doing commercials for the surgeon. I'm glad it worked out well, and I wish Martinez safe travels on the campaign trail.

<em>- Ken Herman writes for the Austin American-Statesman.</em>



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