Nico LaHood Faces a New Challenger in the Primary — His Former Law Partner, Who He Threatened to “Destroy
Former business partner of Nico LaHood will run against him after LaHood threatened to shut down his law practice
Nico LaHood’s campaign for reelection as district attorney of Bexar County, which included the city of San Antonio in Texas, hit a speed bump earlier this month when a lawyer LaHood once threatened, Joe Gonzales, confirmed he would run against LaHood in the 2018 Democratic primary.
The incumbent district attorney has been accused of threatening to “destroy” Gonzales and his law partner, Christian Henricksen, after the duo complainedthat the government’s star witness in a pending murder case had a previous sexual encounter with an assistant prosecutor in the office.
LaHood and Gonzales are also former business partners, and Gonzales had been a supporter of LaHood until the district attorney threatened him, theSan Antonio Express-News said.
According to court filings, LaHood threatened to shut down the law practice of Gonzales and Henricksen during a meeting in the judge’s chambers.
“Before this happened, I was one of Nico’s biggest supporters,” said Gonzales. “In fact, I had contributed to his campaign at a fundraiser he had probably a month before. I’ve been in Nico’s corner for a long time until this incident happened.”
LaHood has denied threatening Gonzales and Henricksen, while admitting he lost his temper at them because he felt they were impugning the integrity of his office. But District Judge Lori Valenzuela later testified under oath that she heard LaHood make the threat in her chambers. Senior District Judge W.C. Kirkendall ruled that LaHood engaged in an unprofessional behavior that might be subject to sanction.
Gonzales, 58, is a former assistant prosecutor and magistrate judge and is now a prominent defense attorney in San Antonio. He said LaHood’s threat against him provided the impetus to consider a run for prosecutor. But it was something he’d been thinking about doing for years.
“This is not a personal feud between Nico and I,” Gonzales said. “My decision to run is bigger than this. I’ve decided to jump into this race because I believe I can bring effective leadership to this office.”
Gonzales has his work cut out for him. LaHood appears to have the backing of the Democratic establishment in Bexar County and likely retains goodwill from Democrats who remember that the district attorney’s office was controlled by Republicans for decades before LaHood defeated Susan Reed in 2014.
The San Antonio Express-News reported that when LaHood announced his reelection campaign, Manuel Medina, chairman for the Bexar County Democratic Party, and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff were among those at the event. Former San Antonio Mayor Ed Garza is also working as LaHood’s campaign manager.
But LaHood’s tenure as district attorney has been marred by several controversies that could make him vulnerable in a Democratic primary.
Along with the threat against Gonzales, LaHood revealed himself to be someone who believes vaccines can cause autism; he shared that opinion in controversial documentary where LaHood said he believes vaccines may have made his son autistic. Numerous studies have confirmed that there is no link between vaccines and autism.
LaHood has also said the country is under threat from Sharia law and has engaged in long running feud with the San Antonio Express-News, blocking them from attending news conferences he’s held.
Gonzales is likely to tout himself as a steadier hand who will not lose his temper and engage in feuds the way LaHood has.
“I think part of being a good leader is having the appropriate temperament,” Gonzales said, “and not overreacting.”
Two other attorneys, Joseph Hoelscher and Todd McCray, are running for district attorney in the Republican primary. The winners of each primary will face each other in the 2018 general election.