Skip to comments.Henry Cuellar Quits as TX Secretary of State
Posted on 10/03/2001 12:21:06 PM PDT by Theodore R.
Henry Cuellar resigns
BY TRICIA CORTEZ
Times staff writer
In a move that surprised political acquaintances and personal friends, Secretary of State Henry Cuellar announced his resignation Tuesday afternoon.
His resignation, effective Friday, comes nearly six months after being confirmed as the 102nd secretary of state of Texas.
"In order for me to explore possibilities of elected office or other options, I feel that it might be better if I resign," Cuellar said by phone Tuesday.
Cuellar remained guarded and would not comment on specifics, mentioning only the possibility of seeking elected office or a position in higher education.
He also made several references to the situation in Florida, when the secretary of state became embroiled in the hotly contested 2000 presidential election.
"If you recall in Florida, they had a secretary of state who got involved in that election. If I'm going to be looking at options, and I don't know what I will be doing, but if I start looking at elected office or even a higher education position, that's been one of my loves, as you know. I certainly don't want to compromise the integrity of this office," he said.
As secretary of state, Cuellar serves as Texas' chief elections officer, which includes "tabulating election returns for state and district offices," according to a Texas government textbook, Practicing Texas Politics.
Cuellar would not comment specifically on how his decision might be related to a potentially close gubernatorial race next year between Republican incumbent governor Rick Perry, who appointed Cuellar, and Laredo Democratic candidate A.R. "Tony" Sanchez, Jr.
Cuellar said he did not talk with anyone in the Sanchez political camp prior to making his decision.
"The secretary of state's office has a very delicate, very important position, and I have always said that I don't want what happened in Florida to happen over here," Cuellar added.
Mindy Casso, Cuellar's chief spokesperson, said Cuellar made no mention of what office, if any, he hopes to seek.
"He's weighing all of his options right now and is also waiting to see what happens with redistricting," Casso said.
It is unclear whether Cuellar is considering a run for a high-profile elected position.
"I was a legislator for 14 years," he said laughing. "It's a different type of action being a legislator. And I miss the other part.
"It's always exciting, looking at new opportunities," he added, noting he has not considered running for office on the Republican ticket.
"I am a Democrat and have not thought of running as a Republican," he said.
Possible elected positions that Cuellar may seek are U.S. senator, U.S. congressman, state attorney general, state comptroller and state senator.
"I'm running again and do not believe he would run against me," State Senator Judith Zaffirini said.
Zaffirini said she wished Cuellar and his family well, but added she was surprised and disappointed by the news.
"I'm disappointed he did not call me first because I sponsored him," Zaffirini said, noting Cuellar would not have been secretary of state without her support in the Senate confirmation hearings.
"He was nominated by Gov. Perry, so Gov. Perry talked to me and asked me to sponsor him. As senator from his hometown, I agreed," she added.
Democrat Judge Raul Vasquez, of the 111th District Court and one of Cuellar's closest friends, also expressed surprised and seemed stunned at Cuellar's announcement.
"Why didn't he tell me?" Vasquez asked on Tuesday evening, right after the Red Mass at San Agustin Cathedral "He usually tells me everything," he added.
Vasquez said someone had mentioned the news to him right before the Mass, but said he brushed it off thinking it was a rumor.
Even Perry said he was unaware of Cuellar's decision, prior to the resignation announcement, according to an Associated Press report.
Cuellar's resignation letter contained a handwritten note to Perry which said, "I personally thank you for this great opportunity. I will never forget a person who been so giving as you have been."
Cuellar also signed the letter, "Your friend (Amigo), Henry."
Some political acquaintances, like Mayor Betty Flores, expressed happiness at Cuellar's decision.
"My reaction is that I am glad," Flores said.
"Although the secretary of state is a needed position, we needed him where he was. We have survived and everything has gone well; however, his experience and talent will lead him to something where he can be more of service," she added.
(Staff writer Tricia Cortez can be reached at 728-2566 or firstname.lastname@example.org) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Back
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