by BRAD ROLLINS
Eight months after being voted out of office, former Sheriff Tommy Ratliff says he will run for the position again, this time as a Republican.
Announcing his candidacy in front of the downtown San Marcos statue of the county’s namesake, Texas Ranger Jack C. Hays, Ratliff – himself a retired Texas Ranger – said he agreed to run for election as a Democrat when the Commissioners Court, controlled by Democrats at the time, appointed him as sheriff after Allen Bridges’ sudden death in December 2008.
But Ratliff said he is really a Republican and will run as one next year when he seeks to regain the office he lost to Gary Cutler in 2010, a year in which all local Democrats with opponents were swept out of office.
“I honored that agreement that I made. Now I am running as a Republican because the Republican Party principles represent my beliefs as sheriff,” Ratliff said. “I am a conservative and my past management of the sheriff’s budget proves it.”
Ratliff, a Kyle resident, delivered several jabs at Cutler, including a claim that detectives have been assigned to supervise inmate work details and that Cutler has steadily increased the department’s personnel budget during his eight-month tenure.
“We need detectives solving crimes, not supervising trash details on the side of the road. We need conservative leadership that returns money to the county budget instead of blowing money on unnecessary… things,” Ratliff said.
Ratliff experienced a bruising campaign in which he found himself denying allegations that he had assaulted his former wife more than 20 years ago; he was never charged and his supervisor later said the investigation ended when she changed her story. Still, Ratliff fared better than all but two Hays County Democrats in last November’s general election, collecting 43.8 percent of the vote to Cutler’s 55.7 percent.
Republican Party chair Bud Wymore said he thought Ratliff would find it tough going in a Republican primary.
“I think we’ve got a capable and qualified Republican sheriff. … Tommy is a guy that’s been in Hays County for a number of years. He’s going to have some support from different folks, particularly in the Precinct 2 area, but that’s to be expected. I’m confident that Gary Cutler has the support of the Republican Party and the Republicans in Hays County,” Wymore said.
Asked if an endorsement by a party chair in a contested primary is unusual, Wymore conceded that it was but said, “It’s unusual for a guy to run as a Democrat one election cycle and as a Republican the next.”
Jon Leonard, the immediate past Hays County Democratic Party chair and a party activist, was no more understanding about Ratliff’s party switch. Leonard said, “I feel bad for so many Democrats all over Hays County who contributed their time, their energy and their resources to the Ratliff campaign — believing that he shared their values. His statement that Republican principles represent his beliefs as sheriff lead me to wonder whether he has any principles other than what he thinks it takes to get elected.”Email | Print