Say Adiós to Matt Rinaldi, the Texas Lawmaker Who Called ICE to Report Latino Protesters

Matt Rinaldi
Matt Rinaldi Sam DeGrave
Matt Rinaldi
Matt Rinaldi Sam DeGrave

State Representative Matt Rinaldi, R-Irving, is good at calling ICE. He’s also good at picking fights with Latino colleagues. But the far-right legislator is no longer, it seems, so good at winning elections.

With all of the early vote in plus more than half of precincts reporting, Rinaldi’s opponent Julie Johnson is up by 12 points. The odds of Rinaldi coming back from that are virtually nil, so the Observer is calling it for Johnson.

Illustration/Sunny Sone

A Dallas-area attorney, Johnson ran a campaign that included volunteers that Rinaldi actually called ICE on at the Texas Capitol during a pro-immigrant protest last May. Johnson raised a lot of money, for a state House candidate, and even drew the endorsement of the Republican who held the seat before Rinaldi. Empower Texans, the far-right political group funded by oil and gas barons Tim Dunn and Farris Wilks, tried hard to save Rinaldi — pumping $200,000 into his campaign since May. Alas, to no avail.

Maybe Dallas County voters felt Rinaldi had hewed too hard to his funders’ reactionary agenda. Or maybe they were just mad at him for acting like a jerk. Maybe he’ll return in a future election — when Beto O’Rourke isn’t helping drive historic Democrat turnout — but for now, adiós Rinaldi. Maybe ICE is hiring.

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Gus Bova reports on immigration, the U.S.-Mexico border and grassroots movements for the Observer. He formerly worked at a shelter for asylum-seekers and refugees. You can contact him at [email protected]

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