Sheriff, tax-assessor incumbents in Cameron County lose in Democratic runoff

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The May 28 Cameron County Democratic primary runoffs saw two incumbent upsets for the sheriff and tax-assessor race while a Brownsville lawyer cruised to victory for the nomination in a state representative race.

One-term Sheriff Eric Garza lost his runoff to Primera Police Chief Manuel “Manny” Trevino while former police officer and Brownsville school district board member Eddie Garcia upset longtime Tax Assessor-Collector Antonio “Tony” Yzaguirre for the nomination.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Gracia, a Brownsville attorney and former justice of the peace, beat out Ruben Cortez Jr. for the Democratic nomination for House of Representatives District 37.

In the sheriff’s runoff, Garza received 4,395 votes, or 44.80%, to Trevino’s 5,415 votes, or 55.20%.

Following his loss, Garza congratulated his opponent.

“Congratulations, Chief Manuel Trevino, on your Democratic Primary Runoff win! Your leadership and dedication shine brightly, and I’m excited to see the positive impact you’ll make moving forward,” he wrote. “Best wishes for continued success!”

Garza also thanked his supporters.

“Though the outcome wasn’t what we hoped for, your dedication means the world to me. While this chapter ends, our journey continues, fueled by your belief and commitment. Thank you for making a difference and standing with me,” he wrote.

As of early Wednesday morning, Trevino had not issued a statement on social media.

Trevino will face off against Republican Santiago “Jimmy” Manrrique in November. He received 11,488 votes in the March primaries.

A view of a Burns Elementary in Brownsville, a polling location on election day Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (Miguel Roberts | The Brownsville Herald)

In the tax-assessor collector race, Garcia received 5,064 votes, or 52.06%, to Yzaguirre’s 4,663 votes, or 47.94%.

On Facebook, Garcia expressed gratitude for the support.

“After 36 long years, we’ve finally taken back our office! This victory is not just about me, but about the people of Cameron County who demanded change,” he wrote. “Your votes were a resounding call for a new era of leadership, transparency, and progress.”

He continued by thanking his supporters for their trust and promised to work tirelessly for “a brighter future for Cameron County!”

Yzaguirre had not issued a statement on social media as of early Wednesday morning.

Garcia will face off against Jesus “Rami” Martinez in November. He received 11,641 votes during the March primaries.

Over at House District 37, Gracia received 2,473 votes, or 66.73%, to Cortez’s 1,233 votes, or 33.27% in Cameron County. In Willacy County, Cortez received 283 votes, or 61.12%, to Gracia’s 180 votes, or 38.88%. However, his win there is not enough to make up the large loss in Cameron County.

In a Facebook post, Gracia said his victory was hard fought and he expressed his “profound gratitude” to everyone who voted for him.

“Your voices have been heard, and the decision was unanimous,” he wrote. “This victory didn’t come easy … since October, we’ve knocked on over 4,000 doors, talked to thousands of people, and put in countless hours of dedication and hard work to earn your trust,” he wrote.

He also thanked his family and promised to serve the district “with the same energy and commitment for a brighter future for all.”

Voters cast their ballots at Garza Elementary on Election Day Tuesday, May 28, 2024, in the Brownsville Southmost area. (Miguel Roberts | The Brownsville Herald)

Cortez also issued a statement where he thanked all of his supporters and his family.

“I got into this race to help working families and secure a better future for all of our kids. It’s the goal that gets me out of bed every day and I will never give up,” he wrote.

During his campaign, he said he received feedback that the community has been ignored.

“Our message of restoring school funding, paying teachers better, making housing more affordable, and securing the border humanely resonated with people of all ages and backgrounds,” he wrote. “And we came closer than we’ve ever come.”

He also wrote that “powers” with “unlimited resources” wanted to hold him back.

“Changing the game is hard. But I never chose the easy fights,” he wrote. “Thank you and God bless!”

Gracia will face off with Republican Janie Lopez in November. She received a total of 7,140 votes in the March primaries.