Richard Cortez officially kicks-off campaign, local leaders still unsure of electability

McAllen – Former McAllen Mayor and former District 1 Commissioner Richard Cortez officially kicked-off his bid to become the next Hidalgo County Judge. Speaking in front of supporters, Cortez assured them that he’ll work to become a County Judge that citizens would be proud of.  Current Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia will not be seeking re-election.

Speaking with the Rio Grande Guardian, Cortez offered his plans on dealing with county-wide issues, one which includes his support of a highly unpopular proposal.  For the much maligned courthouse project, Cortez assures that he’ll see that it’s built on time and on budget. In speaking about the UT-RGV School of Medicine, Cortez would like to see the school fully funded. Currently, legislation in Austin have left the UTRGV Medical School with reduced funding. Proposition 1, which sought to establish a health care taxing district, would have offered additional financial support to the medical school. At this time, Cortez hasn’t made it clear whether he would support a new health care proposition.

Despite the fanfare, there are some local leaders that are still un-sold on Cortez’s appeal in a county-wide race, one official being current County Judge Ramon Garcia.

According to the McAllen Monitor, Garcia was still mulling over the prospects of running for re-election even after several weeks since Cortez announed his candidancy. Garcia, who currently supports Cortez’s bid, was initially hopeful that Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez would throw his hat into the race.

Ultimately, Hernandez opted not to seek the seat, citing his continued interest to improve Pharr’s economic position.

Concerning Garcia most about Cortez prospects is what he views as Cortez limited appeal to voters through-out the county. Upon learning this, Cortez countered these concerns by listing his electoral conquest, such as vanquishing long-time incumbent Othal Brand, in becoming the mayor of the largest city in Hidalgo County, and the victories acheived in his Commissioners seat.

For Garcia, it would appear that motiviation is not to simply elevate a well- qualified Cortez to the County Judge chair, but to simply keep the County Judge seat away from long-time rival, Eloy Pulido.

Pulido had made his intentions to run for the County Judge nearly a year and half from the primaries, and has taken hard line stances on projects Garcia was instrumental in starting, and positions Garcia has a history supporting.  Those two being the County courthouse, in which Pulido would like to revisit the project entirely, and health care taxing district (Proposition 1) in wich Pulido opposses.

Ultimately , Garcia decided to maintain his intial decision to stay out of the race and lend his support to Richard Cortez election efforts.

Both Pulido and Cortez will be vying for the democratic nod during March 2018’s primaries. On the Republican ticket, McAllen businesswoman Jane Cross remains unopposed. Voting trends would indicate that the winner of the democratic contest would likely be the next Hidalgo County Judge.

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