Bribe allegations and ‘illegal immigrants’: smash-mouth politics in Republican runoff for Dallas County commission

Staff Photographer

What started as a quiet race for the Republican nominee for Dallas County commissioner has turned into a pitched battle over criminal allegations and illegal immigration.

The May 22 runoff election for northern Dallas County’s District 2 pits former State District Judge Vickers “Vic” Cunningham against attorney J.J. Koch. The Republican nominee will face a Democrat, Wini Cannon, and a Libertarian, Alberto Perez, in the November general election.

Koch, 38, an attorney who has represented police and worked in technology, has not shied from controversy. Last year, he filed a lawsuit seeking to oust Dallas County elections administrator Toni Pippins Poole.

Cunningham, 55, decided to get into the race because of that suit, saying he was concerned that Koch would be ineffective in the sole Republican seat on the five-member commissioners court because he had already alienated himself from many county officials. The lawsuit was later dismissed.

“He’s very combative, very in-your-face, New Jersey, smash-mouth politics,” Cunningham said, adding the Democrats will “make him sit in the corner. He would effectively remove himself from any representation on the court.”

Dallas attorney J.J. Koch, center, answers questions in an editorial board meeting as former Garland City Council member Stephen Stanley (left) listens and former state District Judge Vickers
Dallas attorney J.J. Koch, center, answers questions in an editorial board meeting as former Garland City Council member Stephen Stanley (left) listens and former state District Judge Vickers “Vic” Cunningham (right) takes notes at The Dallas Morning News. All were running for the Republican nomination for Dallas County commissioner in District 2.

But Koch said he knows from his legal career how to maintain good relationships with people on the opposite side. Besides, he said, he’s just speaking the truth.

In a recent email to supporters, Koch blamed Dallas County’s shrinking middle class on “illegal immigrants.”

“We have to speak truthfully about the problems we face,” Koch said this week. “Not to be hateful toward a group of people, but the fact that there are a lot of illegal immigrants here factor into different problems that relate to poverty.”

Koch’s comments drew condemnation from Commissioner Elba Garcia, a Mexican immigrant, who called them “fear-mongering” and “partisan grandstanding.”

Garcia declined to endorse a candidate, but…

Leave a Reply