When presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders held a recent campaign rally in El Paso, it made sense to kick things off with the beloved local band Sparta.
The group played a few songs as people took their seats in a downtown concert hall. Then frontman Jim Ward addressed the crowd.
“I’m a fourth-generation El Pasoan,” he said. “We have a dilemma. We have a thought that we’re not as important as the rest of the world sometimes.”
That’s wrong, Ward said.
“Thank you so much to this campaign for coming here just to say that this town is important,” he told the crowd, to cheers.
Sanders’ campaign stop was somewhat unusual.
“Generally the only way you see a presidential candidate in El Paso is when they land here to drive to Las Cruces,” says Richard Pineda, director of the Sam Donaldson Center for Communication Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso. That city is just across the border in New Mexico, which has long been considered a battleground state. Sanders’ campaign stop was somewhat unusual.