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Ismael “Kino” Flores Flores Fractures His Democratic Base A Valley “Craddick D” gets first strong primary opponent Story and Photos By JESSE BOGAN 14 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JANUARY 25, 2008 school board trustee from a politically active family. She joins critics of Flores’ affinity for lobby money and Republican Speaker Tom Craddick. They say Flores abuses his office by drumming up consulting fees with local governments, and that Republican rule in Austin has been bad for the Rio Grande Valley. “If you are elected to be a state representative by a group of people, you cannot go to those people and ask for a consulting fee to pursue their interests:’ Garcia said. He was standing in the December cold near two huge barbecues. Huddled nearby was Billy Leo, another former Flores ally and longtime mayor of La Joya, where Flores began his political career on the school board. “Anything with a dollar sign, Kino is involved in,” Leo said. Flores has a $3,000 per month consulting contract with the city of McAllen to help capture public utility franchise fees. \(Granted, other lawmakers conduct business with entities collect $1.6 million in unpaid debt last year for McAllen, said his work benefits the city. Hidalgo County’s 2006 per capita income was $11,919, according to the federal Census Bureau. For the state, the figure was $22,501. Easing back in a chair in his Mission office, Flores didn’t deny he’s a browbeater, but he said he doesn’t use that tactic on people in the district. “There are some people I can bully, and I can beat the dog shit out of, and I can run offlike the lottery directors. I’ve gone through two lottery directors that I had squeezed their nuts and fired them, but not the guy on 111.1 hey came to the ranch to sip their drinks and grill cabrito and corn on the cob in the South Texas brush country. Norteiio music blared. For a short time, shotgun blasts, following the arcs of fluorescent orange clay pigeons, pierced the night sky. The pachanga was a mostly male who’s who of Hidalgo County, a private party of politicos, including the mayor of McAllen, a well-known heart surgeon, and current and former state district judges and attorneys. Not long ago, Ismael “Kino” Flores, a ‘veteran state Democratic representative for the southern half of the county, probably would have been there. But the host, former County Judge Ramon Garcia, no longer backs him. Flores, who has a reputation as a political bruiser, hasn’t had a primary challenger for his District 36 seat since 2000. No Republican has opposed him since he was elected in 1996. This time, Flores has a strong opponent on March 4 in Sandra Rodriguez, a former juvenile probation officer and