Dems ask court to appoint Villarreal as constable after Cortes steps down in July

Jaime Cortes, left, and Beth Villarreal
Jaime Cortes, left, and Beth Villarreal

Dallas County Precinct 5 Constable Jaime Cortes announced earlier this week that he will be resigning from that post, effective July 13, and Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Darlene Ewing today asked the Commissioners Court to appoint Beth Villarreal to fill Cortes’ unexpired term.

Villarreal defeated Cortes in the Democratic Primary race for Precinct 5 constable in March, and since there is no Republican candidate opposing her for the office in the November general election, she was already set to take office on Jan. 1.

—  admin

Precinct 5 Constable Jaime Cortes resigns

Precinct 5 Constable Jaime Cortes, who succeeded openly gay Constable Mike Dupree and represents Dallas’ most heavily LGBT neighborhoods, stepped down today amid ongoing civil and criminal investigations of his office. According to WFAA, the District Attorney’s Office planned to subpoena Cortes for a removal hearing on Thursday, but he opted instead to resign late Wednesday afternoon. Cortes was defeated in the April Democratic runoff by Beth Villarreal, who would have taken office in January since there is no Republican in the race. Villarreal will now likely be appointed to the position by the Commissioners Court before then. Brett Shipp has the scoop.

—  John Wright

Runoff wrap-up: Jenkins wins easily, Villarreal stuns Cortes, Gonzalez tops Chavez in El Paso

Will Naomi Gonzalez, shown flashing the victory sign last night, become the only openly LGBT legislator in Texas.
Will Naomi Gonzalez, shown flashing the victory sign last night, become the only openly LGBT legislator in Texas? (El Paso Times)

Attorney Clay Jenkins handily defeated former City Councilman Larry Duncan in the race for the Democratic nomination for Dallas County judge last night. Duncan was endorsed by Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, but Jenkins also had his share of LGBT backers. Jenkins will face Republican Wade Emmert in November as they vie to succeed openly gay incumbent Jim Foster.

The surprise of the night locally came in the Dallas County Precinct 5 constable race, where Beth Villarreal knocked off embattled incumbent Jaime Cortes. Precinct 5, which covers the city’s most heavily LGBT neighborhoods, once was represented by openly gay Constable Mike Dupree. Villarreal has a gay son and has enjoyed strong support in the LGBT community, partly due to allegations of gay-baiting against Cortes when he challenged Dupree in previous election cycles.

In El Paso, challenger Naomi Gonzalez defeated incumbent State Rep. Norma Chavez. Chavez, in an apparent act of desperation, publicly called Gonzalez a lesbian during the campaign and said she should come out. If Gonzalez does now come out, she would be the only openly LGBT legislator in Texas, one of 20 states that lack one. There is no Republican in the race.

And in Gainesville, Fla., openly gay City Commissioner Craig Lowe faces a recount before he can be declared mayor-elect, after he edged out his opponent by just 35 votes on Tuesday. Lowe, who endured vicious anti-gay attacks during the campaign, would become one of about 30 out mayors nationwide.

—  John Wright

Watch Instant Tea for election coverage

Vote 2010 Logo.colorWe’ll be live-blogging tonight’s primary election results right here on Instant Tea, so don’t forget to check back when polls close at 7 p.m. Here are some of the races we’ll be watching closely:

1. Openly gay Dallas County Judge Jim Foster, who chairs the Commissioners Court, faces an uphill battle for the Democratic nomination. Foster is being challenged by Highland Park attorney Clay Jenkins and Dallas Schools President Larry Duncan. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff between the top two candidates will be held April 6. Foster is the first openly gay incumbent previously endorsed by Stonewall Democrats of Dallas to not receive the group’s backing in a bid for re-election. Stonewall, which endorsed Foster in 2006, is backing Duncan this year. Jenkins also has his share of LGBT supporters, including openly gay District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons.

2. Foster and Fitzsimmons are two of four openly LGBT candidates on the ballot in Dallas County. Fitzsimmons should easily fend off a challenge from perennial candidate Johnny Gomez. Meanwhile, former Dallas Mayor Pro Tem John Loza is one of four Democrats in the primary for County Criminal Court No. 5, where a runoff is also likely. Loza and Tony Parker are vying to become the first openly LGBT candidates elected to the judiciary in Dallas County. Parker, who’s running for the 116th Civil District Court seat, doesn’t have an opponent in the primary.

3. Former Houston Mayor Bill White is the heavy favorite to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. White’s most formidable challenger is hair care products tycoon Farouk Shami. Stonewall Democrats of Dallas has endorsed White. In the GOP primary, the question is whether incumbent Gov. Rick Perry will avoid a runoff against either U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison or Tea Party activist Debra Medina.

4. Rob Schlein, the openly gay president of Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas, is running for precinct chair in his Far North Dallas neighborhood against Homer Adams, the husband of Texas Republican Party Chairwoman Cathie Adams. Cathie Adams, former president of the Texas Eagle Forum, has been one of the leading anti-gay voices in North Texas over the last few decades.

5. State Rep. Terri Hodge, a longtime LGBT ally in the House, pleaded guilty to a felony charge in February in connection with the Dallas City Hall corruption case, and is no longer eligible to hold public office. However, Hodge’s name still appears on the ballot, and if she receives more votes than the other candidate in District 100, Eric Johnson, the Democratic nominee will be decided by precinct chairs in the district. Another embattled Democrat, Precinct 5 Constable Jaime Cortes, faces three primary challengers amid an ongoing criminal investigation of his office.

—  John Wright