New constable, county judge candidate win big in LGBT precincts
Clay Jenkins and Beth Villarreal both won the gay vote on their way to victories in Dallas County Democratic runoffs on Tuesday, April 13.
In what Stonewall Democrats of Dallas has identified as the county’s most heavily LGBT precincts, Jenkins received 60 percent of the vote to Larry Duncan’s 40 percent. Overall, Jenkins defeated Duncan by a margin of 65 percent to 35 percent to become the Democratic nominee for county judge. He’ll face Republican Wade Emmert in November.
Villarreal, meanwhile, trounced Precinct 5 Constable Jaime Cortes in the most heavily LGBT precincts, capturing 75 percent of the vote to the incumbent’s 25 percent. Overall, Villarreal defeated Cortes by a margin of 58 percent to 42 percent. Villarreal will become constable in January, since there is no Republican in the race.
"Obviously as a PFLAG mom, she enjoys that sort of support in the gay community, and unfortunately Jaime had a rather up and down relationship with the LGBT community for quite a while," said David Morris, the openly gay treasurer and co-manager of Villarreal’s campaign. "So when the corruption issue started coming forward, it was not unusual for the community to re-look at Constable Cortes and say, ‘Well, maybe not.’"
Cortes was endorsed by Stonewall Democrats, but Morris said the incumbent’s efforts to win over LGBT political leaders didn’t resonate with rank and file voters.
Precinct 5, once represented by openly gay Constable Mike Dupree, includes the city’s most heavily LGBT neighborhoods in Oak Cliff and Oak Lawn.
In the county judge race, Jenkins said he was "honored" to receive 60 percent of the vote in the LGBT precincts. While Stonewall Democrats endorsed Duncan, who campaigned as a longtime ally, Jenkins also had his share of gay supporters, including Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons.
"I think Dallas County Democrats reaffirmed their message from the primary last night," Jenkins said Wednesday. "I think what they said was, it’s time for new leadership at the Commissioners Court that brings people together to get things done."
Despite the sometimes bitter clash between LGBT supporters of the two candidates, Jenkins is hoping the community can unite behind him in November.
"I hope to have the support of all Democrat groups and the majority of every community in Dallas County," he said.
Erin Moore, president of Stonewall Democrats, said the group will meet Saturday, April 17 to re-endorse in races where its endorsed candidate was defeated — including four of Tuesday’s seven runoffs.
"We’re all one big party now again instead of individuals fighting for the nominations," Moore said. "We supported who we thought would be better on our issues, but that doesn’t mean the other candidate not a good candidate and not a good Democrat."
Moore said Stonewall Democrats will also be endorsing in May school board elections. Saturday’s meeting will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Resource Center Dallas.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 16, 2010.