The race for Tarrant County district clerk got personal Monday when challenger Frank Palomino Jr. questioned whether incumbent Tom Wilder was married.
On Tuesday, Wilder set the record straight. He first married his wife, Charlene, on Oct. 18, 1962. They were divorced on March 1, 1972, in Dallas County but remarried in Tarrant County on Dec. 28, 1972. An online search also confirmed the marriage records.
“His allegation that I was not married is simply not true,” Wilder said.
During Monday’s Star-Telegram Editorial Board meeting, Palomino accused Wilder of not being married.
“You were divorced in March 1972. You’re not married,” Palomino said.
Wilder responded by saying, “You’re a lying dog. You bring my wife into this? I’ve been married since college.”
On Tuesday, Palomino, a retired Lockheed employee, said he hadn’t found Wilder’s second marriage license and had been unable to get a direct answer from Wilder.
“I’m sorry I brought it up, but he’s trying to belittle me every chance he gets,” Palomino said. “I don’t like to play dirty politics, but he’s trying to bring up everything he can find against me. He’s picking on every little thing he can.”
The bad blood between the candidates goes back to 2002 when Wilder filed a complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission saying Palomino did not properly report his campaign expenses. The commission found “credible evidence” and cited Palomino for a violation.
In his 2003 good faith affidavit to the ethics commission, Palomino said “thanks to the incumbent for checking out my math for corrections. Please accept my apology for my oversight.”
Palomino has twice run against Wilder as a Democrat, in 2002 and 2010. In this election, Wilder has accused him of working with Democratic district clerk candidate John Derewitz to defeat him. Derewitz was invited to Monday’s meeting but was sick and unable to attend.
“All of this is an orchestrated attempt to ding me,” Wilder said. “Obviously, they’re working in tandem against me.”
But Palomino said that he didn’t feel the Democratic Party supported him in his two previous runs and that he would never support Derewitz.
“I’m not going to be supporting any Democrat, period,” Palomino said.