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Keep Houston Press Free
4

Garcia Supporters Come Out Of The Closet (Not That Way)

Adrian Garcia didn't say much about Tommy Thomas in his victory speech after winning the election for Harris County Sheriff, but he referenced the fear that Thomas had instilled in his deputies.

"This night belongs to the hard working men and women of the sheriff's department who supported me, even though it was hazardous to do so," he said.

According to deputies that talked to Hair Balls, Garcia's statement didn't apply to everyone at the party.

One said that Garcia had plenty of support within the current ranks, but deputies felt intimidated about expressing it.

"They knew that [Thomas] had a lot of dirt on him, but nobody wanted to come out because they feared retaliation," said Alberto Rivera, president of the Mexican American Sheriff's Organization. "Nobody was going to support Adrian, but tonight they're showing up."

Rivera, who campaigned for Garcia during his run for City Council, said that speaking against Thomas has always been a dangerous move in the sheriff's department. A couple of black and Hispanic deputies have been fired, Rivera said, including past presidents of sheriff's organizations, and others were demoted to jail duty or bad patrol assignments.

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The Garcia bandwagon was definitely rolling last night, and deputies who supported Garcia from the beginning said that was tough to swallow. One deputy, who didn't want his name used, only laughed when a long-time Thomas supporter yelled out during Garcia's speech, "Sheriff, now you are the pride of Texas!"

"Now you see the way it works in this department," he said.

Several other local Democrats showed up to Garcia's party, including Bill White, Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green. The mayor, perhaps feeling some Obama fever, said that Garcia's win symbolized a change to "politics of hope in Harris County."

-- Paul Knight

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