McAllen Mayor Jim Darling says he intends to run for re-election

McAllen Mayor Jim Darling said on Wednesday he plans to run for re-election, an early announcement that comes 18 months away from the May 2021 election.

“Some of the people that normally support me have said they’ve been contacted by other people that I’m not running,” Darling said in an interview on Wednesday. He added: “I intend to run and I’ll have a formal announcement when it’s appropriate.”

Candidates cannot file for the May 2021 ballot until January 2021, and mayoral candidacies in McAllen are typically announced in the weeks or months leading up to the filing month — not a year and a half from election day.

But Darling, 70, said rumors of him not running and other candidates considering bids led him to announce his intentions, which now serve as an early marker for prospective political rivals. One of those could include Commissioner Veronica Whitacre, who has been rumored to run for mayor and has served alongside Darling since she was first elected to the commission in 2015.

Whitacre, however, was mum this week about her plans for future office.

“I can’t discuss that until election time,” Whitacre said on Tuesday when asked about her intentions for office.

Asked for clarification on whether Whitacre would run for mayor in the upcoming election, she said: “I am your mayor pro-tem,” citing her position on the city commission, a ceremonial role that is comparable to a vice president or vice chair, the number two ranking official in terms of authority on the commission behind the mayor.

Current officeholders in McAllen must vacate their seat once they announce a bid for a different elected position, according to the Texas Constitution. When former city commissioner Richard Cortez in 2017 announced his bid for Hidalgo County judge, he vacated his seat and the city called a special election to fill Cortez’s city commission seat. (Commissioner Javier Villalobos ended up winning that special election in a run-off.)

In Darling’s 2017 re-election victory, he defeated challenger Othal E. Brand Jr. by receiving 57% of the vote (4,409 votes) compared to Brand’s 40% (3,061 votes); third candidate Jonathan Carranza received 3% (250 votes).