From Texas Public Radio:
Marc LaHood stood smiling at a podium surrounded by family and law enforcement late last month and accepted another endorsement from public safety unions in his race for Bexar County District Attorney.
LaHood has collected endorsements of the San Antonio Police Officers Association, the Deputy Sheriff’s Association of Bexar County, the statewide police union CLEAT and the Bexar County Probation Officers Union. His message is that the Democratic incumbent, Joe Gonzales, is not tough enough.
“Criminal justice ends at the DA’s office. If we have a DA’s office that is soft on crime, that is not enforcing the law. That is picking and choosing what laws to enforce. We have issues,” he said.
LaHood and his campaign have attacked Gonzales’ marijuana cite and release program that kept an estimated 6,200 people out of jail and instead issued tickets for possession.
He attacked what he calls the DAs office “failure to work with law enforcement” — likely a reference to communication issues that have delayed evidence delivery to attorneys, ensnaring cases in constant resets.
Gonzales beat LaHood’s brother, former Democratic DA Nico LaHood, in a 2018 primary.
Other than a smattering of attempts to connect his race to larger issues like immigration (“Joe Biden’s Failed Immigration policy,” etc.), much of his messaging revolves around local administration.
“Family violence cases are being dismissed 60%. It’s gone up 60%. Family domestic violence case dismissals are up 32%. Unresolved case rate is up 40%. Those are facts here in Bexar County. Those aren’t my facts. Those are objective facts,” Gonzales said in a recent debate on TPR’s “The Source.”
The incumbent has had real concerns in administering justice. A year-long court shutdown mired his office in tens of thousands of backlogged cases. He has many open prosecutor positions and many new, untested prosecutors going into the courtroom.
His relationship with SAPD — the largest enforcement body referring cases to his office — is reputedly frosty. Gonzales came into the job promising reform and police accountability. He said he never wanted the endorsement or assistance of police union organizers, calling it a “conflict of interest.”
LaHood espouses a back to basics, aggressive law enforcement stance at a time when the murder rate is higher.
However, regardless of his argument that Gonzales is soft on crime, voters may wonder if locally focused campaign messages, relying on tried and true “tough on crime” talking points, are enough in light of tragic nearby events and attacks on civil rights.