Nothing whets our political appetite like rumors of alliances between Republicans and Democrats during election season. So when we heard that Republican Dallas County Commissioner Ken Mayfield was helping Democratic candidate Beth Villarreal in her campaign against Precinct 5 Constable Jaime Cortes, we thought we'd won the lotto.
Sure, Mayfield's disdain of Cortes is well documented, but one of the county's most high-profile GOP members throwing a life preserver to a Democrat?
Yet Mayfield didn't hesitate to confirm that he's gathered volunteers to help walk precincts in support of Villarreal, along with discussing "other thoughts" with her that he's unwilling to share, saying only that he gave her "a range of stuff that I could do."
The April 13 primary runoff between Villarreal and Cortes is between a Democrat and "a corrupt politician," Mayfield says, and he stresses that he's only involved because there's no Republican opponent for the winner to face in November. Dallas County Republican Party chair Jonathan Neerman agrees with Mayfield's reasoning.
"I don't want the corrupt politician being in there either," he says. "And, if the only way to get rid of Constable Cortes is through the primary, then I wish Ms. Villarreal all the success in the world."
Neerman pointed out Democratic Commissioner John Wiley Price's endorsement of Republican County Judge Margaret Keliher in 2006, but we reminded him that Price had worked with Keliher for four years, and Mayfield had this to say when we asked how well he knows Villarreal: "I don't know her. I just know she's not Cortes."
"Huh. Well, yeah," Neerman said in defeat. "I'm not the one endorsing her. I assume Ken has good reasons for doing it."
Neerman attempted to rebound by claiming that Mayfield is privy to information about Cortes that the public isn't and Villarreal "has to be better than Cortes." Of course, we didn't hesitate to remind him that everyone probably said the same thing when the commissioners appointed Cortes to replace ousted Constable Mike Dupree.
"I hear you," he told Unfair Park. "Um, I wasn't county chairman back then."
With the Republicans backed into a corner, we wanted to hear from Villarreal but were told she was unavailable. David Morris, co-manager and treasurer of her campaign, emphatically denied Mayfield's involvement until we told him that we had heard it directly from Mayfield. Morris paused and asked to call us back.
Morris later admitted that Mayfield had recruited volunteers via e-mail on his own and the campaign hadn't rejected them. He added that other Republicans offered assistance that was denied, but he refused to name names.
A couple minutes after the call, Morris called back to say that supposedly none of those Republican volunteers had logged any hours yet, so "as of today, all of our volunteers have still been Democrats."
We've left a message on Cortes's cell phone, and we'll update if we hear back from him.