Two county sheriffs are fueling the fiery rhetoric that’s become the norm between Republican Gov. Rick Perry and his Democratic challenger Bill White. And there’s a good chance the lawmen had nothing to do with it.
The candidates released their lists of endorsements after Monday’s Sheriff’s Association of Texas convention. Both lists included Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo González and Zavala County Sheriff Eusevio Salinas.
The Perry campaign sent us copies of signed endorsement cards from González and Salinas indicating they do, in fact, support Perry. We were curious if there was some last-minute meeting that might have swayed the sheriffs, who represent traditionally Democratic counties, or if there was an oversight by White’s camp. González hasn’t responded but Salinas confirmed he does and always has supported Perry.
“I never met with anyone from the campaign of Bill White. I don’t know where they are getting that from,” Salinas said.
Monday, White campaign spokeswoman Katy Bacon said both sheriffs indicated they were backing the former Houston mayor, but she had also seen the endorsement cards sent by the sheriffs backing Perry. “Perhaps someone on staff got it wrong,” she said.
A simple oversight? Perhaps, or perhaps not — but it didn’t seem to matter to Perry’s campaign.
“Bill White has a problem telling the truth, from hiding his profits from the company he formed to exploit his Washington contacts, denying his anti-gun beliefs, pretending not to have profiteered from Hurricane Rita, and now fabricating endorsements,” Perry campaign spokeswoman Catherine Frazier stated.
Not to be outdone, White’s camp had this to add:
“The Perry campaign sure is desperate to change the subject from Perry's unethical land deals. In any case, Bill has earned the support of sheriffs representing about 50 percent of Texans, and a majority of Texans living in counties along the border with Mexico,” Bacon said. “This is still the case without Zapata and Zavala.”
And, in case you missed it Monday, check out Matt Stiles’ county-by-county comparison of how the sheriffs’ endorsements match up with the way their counties voted in the 2008 presidential election here.
Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.