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Smith, meanwhile, has been nearly untouchable for 25 years in the 21st District, which covers San Antonio and parts of Texas Hill Country. He’s gone uncontested in nearly every one of his primaries, save for in 1992 and 2010 (he won with 81 percent of the vote in both years). His worst showing in a general election was in 2006, when he won with 60 percent of the vote. In 2010, he won reelection with 68 percent of the vote. According to campaign finance records, Smith has rasied nearly $660,000 for the 2011-2012 election cycle, and has collected more than $7 million over the course of his career.
There may be a bigger obstacle for Mack than money. Namely, the results you get when you Google him: reports from the Southern Poverty Law Center about his involvement with the John Birch Society and the militia movement, as well as his association with Ruby Ridge survivor Randy Weaver. (Weaver's son was killed and his wife was shot through the head by an FBI sniper during the siege on Weaver's farm, but the SPLC refers to him solely as a "white supremacist.")
“I’ve been worried about it for years,” Mack said when asked if he thought the SPLC’s reports would hurt him in his race against Smith. “The people who know me know that these are all lies and distortions. I’m a very peaceful person who loves America and loves Texas.” In a December 2011 interview with the The New American, published by the John Birch Society, Mack told William F. Jasper, "I spent 20 years in law enforcement and never slugged or slapped or hit or maced or shot another human being. So I don’t believe in violence and I’m not a violent person, nor have I been."
In the summer of 2011, the SPLC issued a correction for a claim it made about Mack: “Due to a transcription error, a story in the Winter 2010 issue of the Intelligence Report misquoted former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack speaking at the Freedom Action National Conference last August. Mack did not say that he hoped that a sheriff would ‘take out some IRS agents.’ He said: ‘My dear friends, I pray for the day that when the first sheriff of this country knows and understands his duty well enough, that he'll be the first one to fire the next shot around the world and arrest a couple of IRS agents.’ We sincerely regret the error.”
Mack filed a defamation suit against the center in December 2011, which he hopes will be adjudicated this summer.
If elected, Mack said he’d retire after four terms. “Lamar Smith is what happens when good people stay in Washington, D.C. for too long. Eight years was good enough for George Washington, it’s good enough for Lamar Smith, and it’s certainly good enough for me.”