That’s what Stickland, R-Bedford, has said throughout a closely watched Republican primary in which both candidates have sought to burnish their conservative credentials.
Now, with early voting underway, the incumbent says he has evidence supporting his claim, though Cargile’s campaign downplays its relevance.
In an email to supporters on Saturday, Stickland circulated audio he says was recorded at a Jan. 28 “Save Our Schools” fundraiser for Cargile, a Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District board trustee and former high school principal. In the nearly two-minute clip, a speaker identified as Irwin Mathews, legislative director for the Hurst-Euless-Bedford Retired School Employees, instructs attendees to encourage all registered voters — regardless of party — to turn out at the Republican primary.
“It is going to be important that we not only show up ourselves to vote, but that we show up with everyone that we can bring with us,” the speaker says. “That is extremely important, and something that we are really emphasizing to our Retired Teacher Association.”
“We’re telling them that it does not matter whether you’re a Republican, whether you’re a Democrat, or whether you’re an independent,” the speaker continued. “It is a fact that whoever wins the Republican primary is going to be the next legislative representative from Hurst-Euless-Bedford. After the primary, we’re telling our retired people, ‘You can vote for anybody you want to vote for, but the issue is voting in the Republican primary.’”
In his email blast, Stickland told supporters the audio “should scare you. It scares me.”
“Don’t let Democrats steal the election,” the email said.
Cargile’s campaign did not dispute the authenticity of the recording, but it said it was irrelevant, because Mathews — a campaign volunteer — was not speaking on Cargile’s behalf.
“He may take that approach to get voters to the polls,” Eric Mayes, Cargile’s campaign manager, said of Mathews. “But as an official campaign strategy, we’re focusing on turning out Republicans and independent voters.”
Mathews did not immediately return a message left Saturday morning.
Mayes said, “Stickland feels that he is in trouble, and is just searching for an issue.”
The HD-92 primary is being closely watched because it pits Stickland’s Tea Party faction of the Republican Party against the establishment conservatives who support Cargile.
Observers say that Cargile, who trails in fundraising, is also at a disadvantage because folks who identify with the Tea Party are more likely to vote in the primary.
Luke Macias, Stickland’s campaign manager, said Democrats have told the campaign — either personally or through email — that they would vote for Cargile in the primary, but he was not sure how many would show up.
“We know there are individual Democrats making that decision,” he said.
In an increasingly contentious race, Cargile, too, has sought to raise questions about his opponents' party allegiances and commitment to the district.
In January, Cargile’s campaign circulated Facebook comments from 2011 in which Stickland appeared to bash the local school system, while endorsing gay marriage and labor unions. When asked, Stickland did not confirm or deny writing the comments, but said they do not reflect his views.