The Houston Chronicle reports that Justice Larry Meyers of the Court of Criminal Appeals has switched to the Democratic Party and will run on the Democrat slate for the Texas Supreme Court. Meyers, originally a Republican, first served on the 2nd Court of Appeals from 1989 to 1992. That year, he was elected to the Court of Criminal Appeals (and was re-elected 1998, 2004 and 2010).
Meyers, who comes from the court’s more moderate wing (4 members), has flirted with this possibility before. As Grits for Breakfast reminds us, he briefly ran against Sharon Keller in the 2012 Republican primary. He was also heavily lobbied to run the race as a Democrat, via The Dallas Morning News. Ultimately, neither of these fantasies for the anti-Keller crowd came to pass.
Today’s bombshell announcement came as Justice Meyers made no formal announcement. Instead, the news broke from a press release of the Texas Democratic Party, which briefly touted Justice Meyer’s record, with quotes from TDP Executive Director Will Hailer and TDP Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa–but not Meyers.
Justice Jeff Brown, a Republican who represents Seat #8 on the Supreme Court, will now face Justice Meyers in next year’s general election. In all likelihood, this probably will not make much of a difference in the election. Supreme Court justices do not have very high visibility, so the name recognition factor will be somewhat negligible. And Keith Hampton’s candidacy last year has taught us that, no matter how supported by the nonpartisan establishment a candidate may be, it will not matter.
Of course, the much bigger story tonight is that Texas Democrats may boast their first Statewide officeholder since January of 1999. Justice Meyers does not have to resign the Court of Criminal Appeals to run for the Texas Supreme Court, and his term on the former does not end until 2017. Accordingly, win or lose this cycle, Democrats will maintain a Statewide Democrat presence for two more election cycles.
There are 28 Statewide offices in Texas. 4% of them are now controlled by Democrats. Say what you will, but that is a heckuva lot higher than 0. It’s progress.