Sources: County Judge Ramon Garcia still considering re-election bid

EDINBURG — With Saturday being the first day to file to run for office in the March primaries, a new wrinkle is developing in the race for county judge.

EDINBURG — With Saturday being the first day to file to run for office in the March primaries, a new wrinkle is developing in the race for county judge.

Incumbent Ramon Garcia, who in February declared he was not going to run for re-election, is rethinking his candidacy, according to several people who spoke with the county judge, but asked for anonymity because they are not authorized to speak on his behalf.

“When I give it some deep, serious thought, you’ll be the first to know,” Garcia told The Monitor on Thursday.

Garcia’s second thoughts have thrown county politics into quiet disarray, several sources said, because diehard Garcia supporters have since pledged their support to former McAllen mayor and city Commissioner Richard Cortez, who is seeking to replace Garcia.

Many are now faced with the possibility of reneging on their commitment to Cortez or abandoning Garcia, several sources said. This becomes especially important for either candidate’s fundraising abilities.

Cortez, however, said he was not aware Garcia was still debating whether or not to run.

“The judge told me he was not going to run, and he was going to endorse me to be his successor,” Cortez said about a conversation the pair had about a month ago. “He hasn’t told me anything other than that, so I believe that to be the truth.”

Garcia told several people this week that he has not decided whether to seek another term after having served 10 years as county judge. He began the week telling business and political leaders that he’s inclined to run again, but lately has been saying he is now leaning against another election bid despite enormous pressure being exerted on him by supporters.

“I spoke to him Monday over the phone to basically give him an update on the campaign, and he didn’t indicate to me in any way he was considering running,” Cortez said.

Garcia also expressed to several people his concern that Cortez, who has a strong base of support in McAllen, may not be electable countywide. Those concerns are being echoed by Garcia supporters who are making a last-minute push to convince Garcia to run again, several sources said.

The county judge also told several people he is concerned that his departure from the race will give momentum to former County Judge Eloy Pulido, a Garcia rival, who has also declared his intent to run for county judge.

“He’s welcomed to do whatever he wants, but really when you look at it, the whole picture, to me… I’m thinking it’s the special interests that have been pushing him back in,” Pulido said about Garcia.. “Sad to say, but it involves the issues that I’m against — one being Proposition 1 and putting it back on the ballot in 2018. The second one is the $150 million courthouse.”

Pulido said he disagrees with the courthouse’s location, the price and “the way they went about it.” He vowed to re-examine the issue, should he be elected.

Businesswoman Jane Cross, a Republican who also declared her intent to run for the county’s top elected position, welcomed the competition on the opposing ticket.

“I’m just glad I’m running on the Republican ticket and don’t have to worry about that,” she said before turning her attention to Garcia. “I just hope he takes care of his health while running and doing all that kind of stuff. People like to be in charge, you know. If he chooses to run, I hope he does well.”

Garcia has told several people that he believes Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez would make a more viable countywide candidate, but Hernandez has already announced that he will not pursue the county judgeship and has publicly endorsed Cortez.

nlopez@themonitor.com