Unless you lived in South Webb County, the only way you might have been aware there was a campaign in progress was by following the news (and blogs) pertaining to “off-the-field” activities by two of the candidates.
This primary was another in a long, expensive and now-boring public feud between Frank Sciaraffa and Louis Bruni. Mike Montemayor played the role of Anybody BUT those two, and forced a runoff, even though the Lizard, like Sciaraffa himself, got caught with his pants down on this one. We predicted Montemayor would cruise to victory. But instead, he edged Bruni for Number 2. However, it was enough to make Sciaraffa pay – even a little bit – for the embarrassment he’s caused the people of South Laredo.
Embarrassment? OK. Maybe not. Seems like “El BJ Gate” wasn’t such a big deal with Precinct 1 voters after all, as Sciaraffa garnered nearly 46% of the Pct. 1 vote, compared with 28.3% for Montemayor and 25.8% for the Puppet Master.
That Bruni – who’d finished fourth in a four-horse race for re-election as County Judge – was able to pull 25% of the vote was a big surprise. That he vowed in post election interviews to continue fighting with Sciaraffa wasn’t.
Let’s look at the truth (stupid as it might be) about this public spectacle:
1) Sciaraffa was Bruni’s bailiff/bodyguard/BFFwhen Bruni was elected as County Judge.
2) Bruni financed Sciaraffa’s run for County Commissioner in order to remove the outspoken Jerry Vasquez from Commissioner’s Court and Bruni’s thinning hair. He succeeded.
3) Sciaraffa was a consistent vote for Bruni on court and continued to be his lapdog until Danny Valdez (and everybody else) outsted Bruni from office.
4) When Sciaraffa was re-elected, again financed by Bruni, there was a falling out over “who was working for who” and Bruni demanded his campaign contributions back, claiming they were loans, then sued Sciaraffa for them, somewhere in the neighborhood of $60,000. There’s no question that Bruni gave Sciarraffa the money, nor is there a question that Sciaraffa had learned to enjoy the high life, going from a low-tier salary in the Sheriff’s department to a comparatively cushy job on Commissioner’s Court, with all the “perks” that came with it. So it’s quite possible that Sciaraffa blew through his money faster than, well, we don’t need to go there again…yet.
5) When that failed, Bruni declared his candidacy against Sciaraffa in Precinct 1.
6) Along about that time, sexual harassment charges were being brought against Sciaraffa by his administrative chief, Sara Jo Davila, whose public claims against him were laughable at best … so much so that everybody with whom she filed the claims threw her out of the office. Again, reliable (and predictable) sources indicate that Davila was paid to come forth (after five years of “service”) by Bruni.
7) Reports from Davila’s deposition are actually both lewd and ridiculous… even by Lizard standards.
8) Now Bruni (or someone who still talks to him) is touting new testimony forthcoming from anywhere from three to 25 alleged victims of Sciaraffa’s unwanted peccadilloes.
9) Oddly, none of these charges in any way reflect on the overall culture of misbehavior and disregard for propriety that was the hallmark of Bruni’s four turbulent years in the County Courthouse.
Lizardistas, the only victim in this sordid chingazo is YOU! While nobody will canonize Sciaraffa’s behavior as a County Commissioner (both in and out of the courthouse), he remained a strong voice for South Webb County. And yes, he probably should have resigned his position early on, because it’s probably only a matter of time before he has to face up to some of his missteps in a court other than that of public opinion.
As we found on on election night, the court of public opinion threw Sciaraffa vs. Bruni out as a frivolous case.
What Montemayor did right: He showed up. He worked the streets pretty hard for a relatively green candidate. He positioned himself well as the outsider. Will it matter in the runoff? Doubtful. The runoff will go to the candidate best able to drag voters into the summer heat to vote for them. And that’s not Mike Montemayor.
What Bruni did right: He was Loony Bruni, plain and simple. His behavior during the campaign was typically atrocious; confrontational and occasionally toxic. He annoyed hundreds of people and then boasted that he had polling information that had him firmly in the lead, winning without a runoff. Of course he was wrong. But by showing his true colors, he removed any possibility that the people of Precinct 1 would have him as their voice on Commissioner’s Court.
What Sciaraffa did right: He did what he always does. He relied on his strong network of canoneros and family members to get out his vote. He spent eight years on the court building a base of people indebted to him and then cashed it in during the Election. Bear in mind that a good portion of County employees owe him their jobs, and don’t forget it. He didn’t buy TV. He didn’t buy newspapers. He didn’t show up to debates. He basically hid out and let his machine do the work.
What’s going to happen in the runoff? It will take an act of God to keep Sciaraffa from being elected to a third term. (OK, God, or the FBI.)
At least this novella is over … at least for a while!