HD-117 Runoff Takes Turn Towards Creepy As Phillip Cortez Surveils Tina Torres' Home

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Pro tip to political consultants out there: don't let your candidate pay a private eye to sit outside a woman's house late at night, because it's super-duper creepy. That's what has been happening in San Antonio, where Tina Torres and Phillip Cortez are in a run-off to be the Democratic nominee. The winner meets incumbent Republican John Garza, who ousted Democrat David Leibowitz in the 2010 Republican wave.

Late this week, local news reports in San Antonio broke the story that Cortez had hired a private eye to follow Torres and camp outside her home late at night. In response, Torres supporters stood outside Cortez' home to draw attention to the gross invasion of privacy and overall creepiness of his hiring a private eye to essentially stalk the woman at her home. (Note that the supporters are doing this in broad daylight and not trying to hide their actions or engage in subterfuge like Cortez.) In response, Cortez staffers hastily made their own signs and staged their own timid counter-protest.

Cortez is also alleging that Torres doesn't live in the district to distract voters from his own questionable history. Cortez stepped down from the San Antonio city council under questionable circumstances. He lied and claimed that he was called to active duty in the Air Force on short notice, a position he repeatedly claimed was forced on him. It turns out Cortez actually actively sought a three-month appointment, a desk job, to help him transition to public affairs work. He also convinced the council to appoint his fiancee to his seat in the interim, a move many thought was designed to set her up to run for the seat, since he was term limited out. Gaining additional training is fine; the question is why Cortez felt the need to lie to his colleagues and the people of San Antonio about his true motivations and actions.

Meanwhile, the Torres campaign has refuted the residency challenges, and continues to run hard through the July 31st runoff. Torres posted a strong July 15th TEC report, with $48K raised, only $29K spent, and $29K cash on hand going into the last month of the run-off. Her opponent, Phillip Cortez, raised $19K, spent $41K, and had $2K left in the bank. That's bad news if Cortez is the winner, since the nominee faces well-funded Republican John Garza, who has a $89K war chest to use to smear the eventual Democratic nominee.

This week the San Antonio Express News also re-upped their endorsement of Torres from the first round of the primary, “strongly encouraging” people to cast ballots for her in the run-off. They wrote,

Torres said she decided to enter the race because of her strong opposition to Garza's record on family issues. She has demonstrated a true commitment to family and children's issues through volunteer work. Torres has 16 years of legal experience, and she has shown that she is a capable advocate for her causes.

Cortez accurately points out that he has more political experience. But his performance as a councilman demonstrated a disturbing lack of judgment that voters should consider.

Torres also received the endorsement of Ken Mireles, the third-place finisher in the three-way primary, who received 31% of the vote. Several of Mireles' top staffers also joined Team Torres to help consolidate support behind her.

Make no mistake: the 117th won't be a slam-dunk for a Democrat this November. Not only is Republican incumbent Garza well-funded, the district went narrowly for Obama and our Supreme Court candidates in 2008, and went for Perry over Bill White in 2010. We need a Democratic nominee who can oust Garza in 2012 and hold the seat in 2014. It does us no good if we can't hold the majority of the seats we pick up this cycle in 2014, especially in districts with more than 50% Hispanic voter registration.

On an electoral, political, and now just straight-up personal level, Torres is clearly the best choice in this run-off.  


About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Central Texas. She is also a fan of UCONN women's basketball and breakfast tacos.

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