Valdez faces tough race for re-election

Posted on 03 Jan 2008 at 10:11pm
By John Wright Staff Writer

Former sheriff Bowles joins Republican field of 4;
3 Democrats challenging lesbian sheriff



Sheriff Lupe Valdez

It’s unlikely Texas voters will have a say in determining the 2008 Democratic and Republican presidential nominees.

But there will be some important and potentially heated local races on the ballot for the March 4 primaries.

Three Dem-ocrats filed before the deadline Wednesday, Jan. 2, to run against incumbent Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez. Four Republicans, including former Sheriff Jim Bowles, will be seeking the Republican nomination to become the county’s top law enforcement officer.

Valdez, Texas’ first Latina lesbian sheriff, has come under fire for repeated failed state inspections of the jail system she oversees. But Kirk McPike, Valdez’s campaign manger, said Thursday, Jan. 3, he’s confident she can win a second term.

“We’re excited about the race,” McPike said. “This is our opportunity to talk about the things the sheriff has accomplished in office, and we look forward to doing that. Nobody wants a primary challenge, but we’re certainly happy to have the chance to start talking about the sheriff’s record in January instead of having to wait until April.”

Valdez faces Peter Schulte, Sam Allen and Roy H. Williams for the Democratic nomination. Bowles, Lowell Cannaday, Catherine Smit and Charlie Richmond are the Republicans in the race.

Valdez defeated Allen, a veteran law enforcement officer, for the nomination in 2004. Williams is one of Valdez’s deputies. Schulte, a former prosecutor, is a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and has appointed openly gay former city councilman John Loza as his campaign treasurer. Schulte said he supported Valdez in 2004.

“If I had felt that she was doing a good job running the department, I wouldn’t be running,” Schulte said. “But the Democratic Party has to put the best candidate forward.”

The Dallas County Republican Party has made the sheriff’s race its No. 1 priority in 2008. Republicans held the office for decades prior to Valdez’s victory, which was a precursor to the Democratic sweep of November 2006.

“After they lose all the countywide races again this year, after they lose the sheriff’s election, there’s going to be very little that Republicans in Dallas County can run for, except the county line,” McPike said.

In addition to the sheriff’s race, there will be contested primaries for Dallas County Precinct 5 constable, the Texas House of Representatives, U.S. Congress, Dallas County tax assessor and several district judge seats. Meanwhile, two openly gay Democrats from Denton County are running for state offices against incumbent Republicans in conservative districts (See Story, Page 6).

In Precinct 5, political newcomer Beth Villarreal filed to run against incumbent Jaime Cortes for the Democratic nomination. Cortes was appointed in July to replace openly gay Constable Mike Dupree, who resigned before pleading guilty to a charge of official misconduct. Precinct 5 includes heavily gay areas of Oak Lawn and Oak Cliff..

The race for the Democratic Party’s nomination for the Precinct 5 Constable’s seat historically has been a bitter one, with candidates trading accusations of dirty politics. Whomever wins the nomination is assured of winning the seat because no Republicans have filed to run.

Villarreal’s campaign has already signaled that it plans to resurrect claims that the Cortes campaign used vicious gay-baiting tactics against Dupree in two previous unsuccessful primary races.

Cortes, who is running as gay-friendly, has denied any knowledge of the campaign literature that was circulated in those campaigns.

E-mail wright@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 4, 2008

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