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As Democratic Runoff For Governor Heats Up, Andrew White Says He’ll Divest From Border Security Company

White said Wednesday that he won’t be able to divest before the runoff. His opponent, Lupe Valdez, accused him of making decisions based on “what’s politically expedient and not doing right by Texas”

Democratic candidates for governor Andrew White and Lupe Valdez.

The Democratic runoff for governor has sharply escalated this week over a company owned by Andrew White that has been criticized as a “border security business.”

White, the son of former Texas Gov. Mark White, announced Tuesday he would divest from the company, Geovox Security, if he wins the runoff. On Wednesday morning, his opponent Lupe Valdez’s campaign pounced on the promise, questioning why he wouldn’t do it immediately.

“Just days ago, Andrew White was saying owning a company that benefits from a militarized border is a ‘perfect’ example of the type of leadership he wants to bring as governor,” said Valdez, the former sheriff of Dallas County. “Now that he has new friends, he says he would divest ‘if he wins.’ If he thought it was truly problematic, he would divest now, stay divested, and not wait.”

“It very much sounds as if he makes decisions on what’s politically expedient and not doing right by Texas, as goes his campaign motto,” she added. “Should Democrats wonder if his stances will change if he wins the Democratic nomination?”

White responded on Twitter, saying the sale of Geovox, a company that uses heartbeat-detection technology to find people hiding in vehicles, is “underway.” But he said it won’t happen before the May 22 runoff date. 

The spat came as the focus of the race has shifted to immigration and border security. Valdez was the leading vote-getter in the March primary, but she has faced a tough couple of days. On Sunday, she struggled to explain her record as sheriff at a town hall organized by a group of young Latino activists, particularly when it came to her department cooperating with federal immigration authorities. 

The group, Jolt Texas, subsequently endorsed White, though they still had reservations about his involvement in Geovox and hoped he would cut ties with it down the line.

In his tweet, White tried to return the focus to the forum, and the issue of whether Valdez will debate him: “What can happen before the runoff is a debate. Lupe wasn’t able to answer an 18-year-old’s question about her record. What other questions will she avoid?”

White said at the forum that his company’s technology is put to use on the U.S. border and in other countries “to make sure that sex trafficking is not happening, to make sure that if there are people in the back of that truck, they’re not dying from heat exhaustion or dehydration.” White characterized it as “smart security” that stands in contrast with Republican efforts to secure the border, which most recently included ratcheting up the National Guard presence there at the direction of President Donald Trump.

“It’s a perfect example, in my opinion, of the type of leadership I want to bring to the border, which is yeah, we need a secure border, for sure, it’s our sovereign right, but we should have a smart border, not a fear-mongering border,” White said. “I’m sure this issue might be used against me — that I have a quote ‘border security business’ — but the reality is it’s used to protect people’s lives, and frankly I’m very proud of the fact that in the 20-something-year history that we’ve had, we have saved thousands of lives with this technology.”

White’s promise to divest from Geovox if he wins was first reported by The Dallas Morning News.

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