Thursday, July 31, 2008

Don't count me out


The smell of political shenanigans south of I-10.

South Texas politics as usual?

Webb sheriff files appeal for a new election
Lynn Brezosky - Express-News

BROWNSVILLE — Webb County Sheriff Rick Flores has decided he's not giving up the fight for his office after all.

Less than two weeks after issuing a somewhat conciliatory statement that seemed to put an end to the prolonged bout of runoff, recount, and recount of recount, Flores says he still thinks rival Martin Cuellar lost.

Wednesday, Flores filed a notice of appeal to the state's 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio regarding a judge's denial of a new election.
Cuellar spokesman Colin Strother said Cuellar has been declared the winner three times and would prevail a fourth.

“The only time Rick Flores was deemed a winner was when he and or his supporters cheated and pencil-whipped the numbers,” he said.
In a cell phone call to explain his appeal, Flores said he was egged on by constituents convinced something was amiss.

He said he and others felt state District Judge David Peeples did not consider all the evidence and testimony before denying a request for a new election.

“This has been something that I've seriously considered, and I finally filed,” he said. “I've been getting a lot of phone calls from a lot of people in the community. ... We just feel that it is in the people's best interest that we follow through and seek legal recourse.”

Peeples on July 17 refused to call a new election based on Flores' contention of illegal voting and computer problems in the April 8 runoff.

Flores, 46, finished first and Cuellar, 50, second in what had been a five-man race.

Cuellar won the runoff by 37 votes, but Flores came out ahead by 133 votes in a May 1 recount. Cuellar sued for a second recount, which put him back ahead, this time by 42 votes.
That's when Peeples was called in to hear testimony on whether there had been irregularities sufficient for a new election. He decided there weren't.

“We're deeply disappointed with the outcome,” Flores said after the judge's denial. “We strongly feel that we furnished the court with sufficient evidence of voter irregularities. ... I hope and pray that my successor continues the fine tradition that this organization has provided in the last four years.”

Cuellar, a longtime state police official, is brother to U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, who has sparred with Flores over national border security issues.

“The residents of Webb County are ready to move on,” Strother said. “The only person that hasn't gotten the message loud and clear is Rick.”