1888 election was a precursor of future politics in Duval County

The deadly Duval County election of 1888 featuring the Botas and Guaraches was a precursor to the Parr politics of the future.

The Laredo Daily Times recounted a letter from Juan Zardiente to his brother Romulo in Laredo in which he relayed that the Botas Democratic ticket had won the election in Duval County. According to Zardiente, Julian Palacios was elected County Judge over James Luby. Other Bota victors were W. Tinney for County Clerk; Alvino G. Tovar, as County Treasurer; John Buckley, as Sheriff; and Zardiente for County Commissioner. The Guaraches and the Botas reportedly elected two commissioners each but with a Bota County Judge they had majority on the court.

But politics reared its ugly head in Duval County, much before the Parr’s had perfected dirty politics to an art form. In fact, Archie Parr had only been in the county for five years and was not yet an active political player.

The Duval County Commissioners Court met on Nov. 12 -13 to canvass the election returns. The Botas were in control of the court and quickly threw out the votes from Benavides and Rosita, claiming the election judge had not reported the total number of votes cast even though the votes each candidate candidate received were reported. Anticipating shenanigans. the Guaraches hired Corpus Christi attorney John S. McCampbell, who had been the law partner of Archie Parr’s uncle John Givens. The Botas, meanwhile, retained the services of Laredo attorney J. O. Nicholson.

McCampbell, representing R. B. Glover, F. C. Gravis, and L. L. Wright, protested the Commissioners Court’s action but Nicholson argued that the election law was “directory not mandatory.” Commissioners Corkill and Ridder voted to throw out the Benavides and Realitos votes. Commissioners Hebron and Eznal, voted to keep the votes, but Judge Luby broke the tie and the votes were rejected. More than 400 votes were thrown out. The Guaraches served notice they would appeal to the District Court where they hoped for a friendlier reception since the Botas had supported the District Judge’s opponent. The Laredo newspaper lamented the disenfranchisement of voters and reported that a similar case two years previous had occurred in Starr County and the Supreme Court had reversed it.

The election took on an international flavor when parties asked the Mexican Consul in Laredo, Señor Rafael Varrios, and Minister Romero to get involved in the Duval County election controversy. They wisely declined involvement.

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