The El Paso Times reports that John Cook, the former Mayor of El Paso, will seek the Democratic nomination for Land Commissioner next year. The news comes as a good sign for Democrats in the State, who are still without a single Statewide Democratic candidate for 2014.
In a video procured by the Times, Cook expressed his disdain for fellow El Paso Democrats, reminding everyone that the city, which is the Sixth largest in the State (and 19th largest in the Nation), has never elected a Statewide officeholder. “”I think it’s an embarrassment to the city of El Paso, being one of the largest cities in the United States, that we’ve never had a candidate elected to a statewide office,” Cook said.
Cook was first elected to the El Paso City Council in 1999, serving until 2005, when he defeated incumbent Mayor Joe Wardy in the municipal election. Cook was then re-elected in 2009, and left office last month due to term limits. Perhaps most famous for Mayor Cook’s tenure is his zealous support for gay rights.
There was a great Huffington Post article about all this. Long story short, in 2009 Cook pushed through domestic partnership benefits for the municipality. However, in 2010 a ballot measure overturned these benefits. Thereafter, Cook pushed through yet another round of the domestic partnership ordinance. This was the straw that broke the ignoramuses’ backs.
Cook fired back, saying “To me this was always about bigotry. Intolerance is bigotry.” This is when the recall effort began, immediately before the Special Municipal election in 2012. Social conservatives, livid over Cook’s support of gay rights, began circulating petitions and collecting signatures. However, from what I could find in an article from the Times, tax-exempt churches illegally participated in the recall effort and the Eighth Court of Appeals declared the recall effort null and void.
Recently, Cook has been in the news for two new issues. First, pertaining to the failed recall effort, Cook has filed a claim for the City to reimburse him for the $700k used defending himself against the recall, stating both the recall and the initial referendum on domestic partnerships to be illegal.
Doing research on this actually opened up a whole new can of worms I was not familiar with. Evidently, one of the more controversial things Cook did as Mayor was help to usher through a new deal demolishing El Paso’s City Hall and putting up a Baseball Stadium in its place. Evidently, this ticked off a lot of people. And the deal allegedly involved some shady business.
So John Cook may have a few skeletons in the closet. But he is unabashedly progressive, and surely will not equivocate his position on “being a liberal” when some Tea Party crazy confronts him. While he would be like Bill White in the being an old, White Mayor part, he could be oh so different in other ways. We’ll see how he does against George P. Bush.