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.