Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Expect judicial races to top Democratic vote getters

Here's an underdog pick for the Election Day office betting pool: If Democratic turnout surges and Rick Noriega even comes close to picking off John Cornyn in the US Senate race - a longshot, but the gap has been narrowing - don't be surprised to see Democratic candidates for the Court of Criminal Appeals, Susan Strawn and J.R. Molina, actually upset Republican incumbents Tom Price and Paul Womack.

The Austin Statesman today endorsed Strawn, but declined to back Molina over Womack declaring, "Neither is fit to hold the office, so we're not going to recommend the least lousy choice."

Editorialists' opinions aside, in 2006 Molina got nearly 300,000 more votes than Democratic Senate candidate Barbara Radnofsky, even though he ran no campaign and refused to show up for newspaper editorial board meetings. His opponent, Presiding Judge Sharon Keller, won with only 56.73% of the statewide vote - a shockingly low number against a fringe candidate and a poorer performance than any other statewide Republican. That's a lot of exta voters, too many to be a fluke.

Though CCA judicial campaigns are woefully underfunded, its judges may well be the spearpoint of Democratic statewide success if 2006 voting patterns are any guide. A coordinated campaign by the Democratic Party to elect judges might have maximized these gains, and would certainly be a good idea for 2010. But even if campaigns for appellate judgeships remain ignored stepchildren, on a by-the-numbers basis Dems in those races arguably have a better chance to succeed in the near future than better-funded candidates in higher-profile contests.


Anonymous said...

It is quite ironic that the Democrats are focused on knocking off the most pro-defense judge (Tom Price) on the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Perhaps that means your apparent assumption that "Democrat" = "Pro-defense" is flawed and incorrect?

Anonymous said...

Interestingly enough, the Amarillo Globe News, a dependably Republican publication, in this morning's edition endorsed Susan Strawn. The only other time I remember AGN endorsing a Democrat was when they endorsed Sharp for Lt. Gov. over what's his name who's in there now. Too bad their endorsement didn't produce fruit. If it had we wouldn't have had the mid-decade redistricting brouhaha.

Charles Kiker

The Monty Blog said...

Perhaps that means your apparent assumption that "Democrat" = "Pro-defense" is flawed and incorrect?

He put it ineptly. He meant to say the Democrats care about the rules and the Constitution, hoping to create and maintain a fair system. Republicans concern themselves with result in a particular case, and if the Constitution is trampled to obtain the perceived right result, they will craft some tangled way to support the result.

Many confuse this with "pro-state" and "pro-defense."

Anonymous said...

No. The Democrats have complained that Judge Keller is too pro-prosecution and that the Court of Criminal Appeals lacks balance.

The irony comes from the fact that Judge Price is the judge on the Court of Criminal Appeals who has been Judge Keller's strongest opponent (including running against her twice for Presiding Judge).

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Judge Keller refers to HERSELF as a "pro-prosecution" judge, that has nothing to do with Democrats.

Any lawyer should find that offensive, not just Ds - imagine a family court judge who declared themself pro-husband!

You're basically applying a stereotype to Democrats then looking to the real world and calling them hypocrites because they don't do what your stereotype predicts they should.