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Garza takes huge lead during early voting, poised to become next Cameron County sheriff

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BROWNSVILLE — Former District Clerk Eric Garza is poised to become the next sheriff of Cameron County after winning the early vote by a wide margin.

Garza won 60.8% of about 87,000 ballots cast during early voting, according to preliminary election results published by the Cameron County Elections Department on Tuesday night.

His opponent, former Indian Lake police Chief John Chambers, received just 39.2% of ballots cast during early voting.

All results will remain preliminary until canvassed.

Garza challenged longtime Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio during the Democratic Party primary — and defeated him in July, when the Democratic Party held a runoff election.

After the runoff election, Lucio endorsed Chambers, the Republican candidate for sheriff.

Chambers accused Garza of associating with supporters of former Cameron County Sheriff Conrado Cantu, who confessed to protecting drug smugglers and served time in federal prison.

"The last time Cameron County elected a corrupted Sheriff (Conrado Cantu) he colluded with drug cartels," according to a campaign ad the Chambers campaign posted on Facebook. "Do we want to repeat this?"

Garza countered that — unlike Chambers — he'd never been arrested or convicted of any crime.

When he served as Indian Lake police chief, Chambers was accused of falsifying records that showed whether or not reserve officers had passed a firearms training course.

Chambers was convicted of 14 counts of tampering with a governmental record. He appealed and the charges were reduced from felonies to Class A misdemeanors.

"Cameron County deserves a Sheriff that will not be on probation or worse, in jail, during his term," the Garza campaign wrote on Facebook. "I continue to humbly ask for your vote. With your help we can achieve the change we need and the protection we deserve."

Editor's Note: Channel 5 News filed a lawsuit against John Chambers in mid-October, accusing him of using Channel 5 News video without permission.

No one involved with the lawsuit had any involvement in the writing, editing or reporting of this news story.

Check back for updates.

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