UPDATED Houston Council Candidate Graci Garces Demands Apology Over Photo

Houston City Council District I candidate Graci Garces is calling for opponent Ben Mendez's apology after Mendez -- or someone with his campaign -- allegedly e-mail-blasted a photo, Garces enjoying a meal at a restaurant.

"I was appalled that Ben Mendez and his campaign would distribute a photo of me that is intended to bully, harass and discriminate," Garces explained in her statement.

She continued: "The Mendez campaign crossed the line of decency and should be held accountable."

Hair Balls has to admit: We're a little confused by the whole thing. We're not sure what the Mendez campaign hoped to gain by distributing the photo, or if it was just someone's idea of a joke. What's the message of this photo? That Garces is not a size 2, and therefore is a freak of nature whose very existence must be documented and shared with the rest of the world?

We think Garces and her supporters -- some of whom have written their own open letter demanding an apology -- are raising too much of a stink over this, but that's politics. What bothers us most of all is the way Mendez's campaign is(n't) dealing with this.

We asked Mendez's campaign manager, Joaquin Martinez, about the photo Monday, and he claimed that this was the first he's heard of it. Strike one, dude. If it really was the first he's heard of something that one of his opponents is now turning into a campaign issue, then he needs to be let go and replaced by a more effective manager, like perhaps an orangutan or a block of wood. There is no reason Martinez shouldn't have had some canned statement at the ready.

Martinez said he'd get back to us, and of course he did not. Nor has Mendez returned our calls. But sometime between our brief conversation Monday afternoon and this morning, the contact number on the campaign's Web site changed. Strike two, dude. That's just freakin' stupid.

And here's strike three: The new number's voice mail doesn't identify the campaign or name any associated individual. It doesn't even state the actual phone number -- what it does is state the phone number as if it's an actual number, as in, "You have reached two-billion-eight-hundred nineteen million..."

We're guessing this is what happened at Team Mendez Monday night.

Martinez: Hey, Ben, some jackoff reporter asked about that photo. What should I tell him?

Mendez: (thinking long and hard before a luminescent bulb clicks on over his head) By Jove, I've got it! Don't call him back -- just change the number on our campaign site. And make sure it has a really fucking stupid outgoing message!

Martinez: Sir, how did you get to be so smart?

Mendez: By never eating, my son. By never eating.


Update: Martinez just sent us a response, which states, "Ben Mendez is running a positive, energized, grass-roots campaign based on the needs and concerns of the citizens of District I, and at no time indulges in or condones negative campaign tactics. In the face of competition, we're aware that campaigns sometimes present items in attempts to get traction in the news....[Mendez's] campaign staff and volunteers will continue to work hard to energize and engage the citizens [of] District I in discussions about ways to improve the overall quality of life in the community."

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