Texas Elections 2018

Texas candidate for border county judge allegedly calls local Democratic chairman and makes threat referencing “damn Zetas”

Rudy Bowles, a candidate in the Democratic runoff for Maverick County judge, is accused of leaving the county party chairman a voicemail in which he makes a demand and promises to call the "damn Zetas" if he does not get his way.

Rudy Bowles faces incumbent David R. Saucedo in the Democratic runoff for Maverick County judge.
Texas Elections 2018

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz defeated Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke in the race for U.S. Senate. View full 2018 Texas election results or subscribe to The Brief for the latest election news.

 More in this series 

A candidate in a hotly contested runoff to be a border county judge has turned himself in to police after he was accused of threatening to send a Mexican drug cartel after the county party chairman, according to authorities. 

The election is Tuesday.

The candidate in the Democratic runoff for Maverick County judge, Rudy Bowles, left a voicemail Sunday afternoon for the chairman, Luis Ruiz, demanding a "list of the judges for each one of the precincts," Ruiz told police.

"I need to know right away," Bowles said. "If you don’t call me within 30 minutes, I am going to call the damn Zetas from across the river and they’re going looking for you, OK. Call me please, I don’t want to have to do that."

Ruiz feared for his safety — as well as his family's — and filed a police report Sunday evening. The Texas Tribune obtained the police report as well as a recording of the voicemail. 

Bowles was charged with harassment, a class B misdemeanor, and released early Tuesday morning on a $3,000 bond, according to Maverick County Sheriff Tom Schmerber.

Bowles did not respond to messages seeking comment Monday afternoon. But in a somewhat cryptic video posted to his Facebook page on Monday evening, he seemed to address the incident.

"I like to joke around at times, but I do not in any way, shape or form belong to any violent organization and I am not perfect — believe me, by no means — but I also at times make mistakes and I apologize for them," Bowles said. "I’m human, I make mistakes."

Addressing supporters, Bowles went on to say he believes he is the victim of a "witch hunt on the part of someone y'all know." He did not identify the person but insisted he is confident "all allegations will be cleared."

And in a Tuesday statement, Bowles’ campaign said that on Monday evening, he “voluntarily went to address any issues the authorities had.” Echoing Bowles’ video, the statement labeled the situation a witch hunt.

"Rudy Bowles- born and raised in Maverick County is a lifelong respected educator with no criminal background was courageous enough to stand up to David Saucedo's political machine,” the statement said, calling the arrest a "last minute political desperation Hail Mary."

Bowles, most recently a trustee on the Eagle Pass ISD board, is in a runoff against David Saucedo, the incumbent Maverick County judge. The two have a history: Bowles is a former county judge who won the post in 1980s after defeating Saucedo's father, Ramon Saucedo, according to the San Antonio Express-News

Maverick County sits on the Texas-Mexico border, about two and a half hours southwest of San Antonio. Its biggest city is Eagle Pass.