Well, we just got off the phone with Pete Schulte, who plans to run against Sheriff Lupe Valdez in the Democratic primary next March. Only 29, Schulte works as a prosecutor in the District Attorney’s Office and is a former police officer with the McKinney Police Department. That means that he has already passed his mandatory licensing test that the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) requires of all officers of the law, which we bring up for no particular reason, really.
Schulte says that while he will absolutely not run a personally negative campaign, he will bring up the issues “the public pretty much knows about anyway,” which basically includes the jail, the jail and the jail.
“I’m in the race to bring finally, competent, responsible leadership to the Sheriff’s Department” he says.”I don’t think its ever been there. With the current sheriff all we’ve heard is a lot of excuses.”
Lest you think this, like many primary challenges, is a shot in the dark, former Mayor Pro-Tem John Loza has signed on as Schulte’s campaign treasurer, while veteran consultant Anna Casey is joining the team as his campaign director.
Although Schulte has been attending Democratic events over the last year trying to make contacts and build support, he concedes that he voted in the Republican county primary last spring. You have to like his rather candid explanation:
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“I was trying to get a job in the DA’s office,” Schulte says, since at the time, most people thought that Republican candidate Toby Shook was going to ascend to the position. Schulte anticipates that Valdez will try to paint him as a Republican, but he says that he believes in standard Democratic values and besides, running a jail is about more than party politics anyway.
“Under my leadership, the sheriff’s department is going to be transparent,” says Schulte, a graduate of the School of Law at SMU. “It has to be visible to the public that we are following the law, that we are doing what we are supposed to be doing and being a professional organization.”
We’ll be giving the presumptive Republican challenger, Lowell Cannaday, a call in the near future, but right now we’re a little more surprised that Valdez has a challenger from her own party. We didn’t anticipate the Republicans, however so 2002, would sit this one out, although it would seem like the only chance any of them would have these days would be if Valdez lost in a Democratic primary or emerged badly beaten. Which is exactly the scenario that now presents itself.
Schulte concedes that some Democrats tried to talk him out of running but he says that if he doesn’t beat Valdez in the primary, she’ll emerge stronger from the challenge. “It’s not a bad thing if she’s going to be contested. Trust me, if it wasn’t me, it would be others.” --Matt Pulle