Just to sum up the results for those of y’all who have not been paying much attention to things, I will recap some of the big things that have happened. First, the expected winners were, by and large, the winners on Tuesday night in Statewide elections. Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis won their respective bids for Governor, John Cornyn easily beat back challengers for another nomination to the Senate, George P. Bush got the GOP nod for Land Commissioner and Stephen Brown got the Democrat nod for Railroad Commissioner. All three incumbent Supreme Court Justices who saw right-wing primary opponent were able to easily prevail.
In a few other races, the expected result happened, but in a very different manner. This was largely due to the fact that the Texas Tribune poll released about a week ago was total garbage. It was not worth the fictional paper it wasn’t printed on, to quote a friend. In these races, David Alameel and Kesha Rogers indeed will proceed into a runoff for the US Senate Democrat primary, as will David Dewhurst and Dan Patrick for the Lieutenant Governor Republican primary. However, the Tribune poll seriously miscalculated who would come in first and by how much. Instead of Rogers holding a commanding plurality lead, she hovered near 20% while Alameel was just a few perilous points so close to winning outright. Instead of the preconceived notion that Dewhurst would receive 40-something percent compared to Patrick’s 20-something, the roles were reversed.
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Longtime readers of this blog will recall that I am not much for predictions. Well, to be fair, I used to predict things all the time, but I was notoriously wrong too many times to count. Accordingly, in an effort to save face, I will not field my own electoral predictions, which are only slightly less reliable than the Tribune polls.
Rather, I want to note what I am looking for and what I am hoping for; admittedly, they are nearly mutual exclusive categories. Within those categories, I would like to look most specifically at both the Republican & Democratic primaries, as well as both Statewide races and those in Harris County. Within these four categories, there are quite a few overlapping key points, however.
1. HOW BIG IS THE STUPID VOTE?
This is one for the Democratic primary. I am using the official academic term, of course, to describe these so-called stupid voters. They are the voters who will cast their lots for Kesha Rogers (US Senate), Lloyd Wayne Oliver (District Attorney) and Lori Gray (115th District Court), in that order. Albeit, plenty of otherwise unintelligent voters may coincidentally vote for the non-egregious candidates, but there is no way to discern them from Adam.
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Texpatriate has learned that the horrendously misleading attacks and outright lies about Judge Steven Kirkland have reared their ugly head once again in his current campaign. Kirkland, who served as a Civil District Judge from 2009 to 2013, was infamously defeated for re-election in the 2012 Democratic primary after his opponent, financed by a disgruntled lawyer, promulgated both the aforementioned libels as well as homophobic tactics. Admittedly, this new round of attacks have not crossed the threshold of bigotry against the openly gay Kirkland. This year, Kirkland is once again running for a Civil District Bench, against yet another candidate bankrolled by the same disgruntled attorney.
Just a few days ago, a robocall made its rounds throughout the City. Today, a new mailer was delivered to homes around Houston as well. On the front side of this mailer, a broad image is simply presented of a man’s wrists shackled with handcuffs. “When it comes to drunk driving, you be the judge,” the mailer reads. “And say no to Steve Kirkland in the Democratic primary.”
The back side opens up with an ominous phrase designed to mislead meek readers down a rabbit hole. “Judicial candidate Steve Kirkland has been jailed and arrested twice for drunk driving,” the headline reads. While this is not per se untrue, it is highly misleading, as it occurred over thirty years ago. After the DWIs, Kirkland received treatment for alcoholism, turned his life around and has not had a drink in over 30 years.
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Do you know what the 113th District Court does? What about just a Civil District Court in general? Therein lies the problem that hoodwinked voters in 2012, and we sincerely hope does not negatively corrupt them once again in this year’s primary.
In the year 2008, voters elected a Democrat named Steven Kirkland to a Civil District Bench in Harris County. Kirkland is openly gay, but that definitely was not the reason he got elected. Contrary to some of the stories you may have heard, it wasn’t the reason he was defeated for re-election in 2012 either. Instead, the story bears a much sneakier and nefarious orientation. Shortly before the 2012 primary, Judge Kirkland presided over a suit against a prominent attorney accused of overcharging his clients. When all was said and done, the attorney –George Fleming– had been cost $13 Million by the lawsuit.
Fleming ultimately appealed the decision, but that was not enough. He was out for blood. Buying a general election is hard, particularly when so many voters select a straight ticket option in the Presidential year. But buying a primary election, where turnout hovers only in the single digits, is significantly easier. Fleming recruited an attorney by the name of Elaine Palmer, almost exclusively bankrolled her campaign, and let the cards fall where they may.
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Editorial note: This is the first in our series of electronic interviews with candidates in contested primaries at both the Statewide level and throughout Harris County. We have sent eight open-ended questions to each of the candidates. The following are verbatim copies of the questions sent out and the answers received.
Lori Gray, candidate in the Democratic Party for 113th District Court (Harris County)
Texpatriate: What is your name?
LG: Lori C. Gray
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Laziness heralded the day for the Texas Democrats shooting themselves in the foot at the close of the filing deadline, but it is unbridled stupidity carrying the banner for the Harris County Democrats next year. Again, not from the leadership, but from the average people. I will post a full list at the bottom of the post, but would like to talk about a few things first.
There will be six Court of Appeals slots up for election to a 6 year term, between the seats on the 14th Court of Appeals and the 1st Court of Appeals. These elections were remarkably close in 2008, meaning that changing demographics should probably make them just as competitive –if not more– in 2014. But will they be competitive? No. Because the Democrats, once again, were too LAZY to contest half of the slots. One candidate, Jim Sharp, actually won in 2008. He will be running for re-election, and Kyle Carter, a good District Judge, will run for another post. These two men will be great candidates! Another candidate, Gordon Goodman, has filed but I do not have any info on him yet, nor do any of my attorney sources have information on him.
When it comes to District Courts in Harris County, there are a full 36 posts up for election, between Civil, Criminal, Family and Juvenile courts. In 2010, every single one of these posts had a Democratic candidate, and as I recall most every candidate was well qualified and overall competent. Only 27 of these will be contested by the Democrats this time around, including four races where Democrats will be fighting one another instead of the incumbent Republican judges.
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