Friday, May 07, 2010

Tracking Texas court races

A new-to-me website called Judgepedia has usefully compiled all the competitors in Texas judicial elections statewide at the appellate court and district court level, as well as information on county court at law and JP races by county.

What an excellent resource! Very helpful. The court races I'll be watching most closely:

Morris Overstreet (D) vs. Sherry Radack (R, incumbent), Houston's First Court of Appeals: Both these candidates boast major political connections and should generate sufficient resources to put up a fight. Overstreet formerly sat on the Court of Criminal Appeals and Radack is married to a member of the Harris County Commissioners Court. However it turns out, expect the outcome to be tight and the race to be hard-fought; IMO it's a critical, bellwether seat for Democrats' statewide, whether party strategists have figured that out yet or not. Republicans' margin of victory on the First Court of Appeals have grown increasingly slim. Two other First Court of Appeals seats are up in the general election, but expect the race for chief justice to predominate.

Keith Hampton (D) vs. Michael Keasler (R, incumbent), Court of Criminal Appeals: High-court candidates among Democrats tend to get more votes than the top gubernatorial vote getters, so if Bill White gets close to Rick Perry, Keith Hampton could sneak into office on his coattails. That's especially true if his campaign succeeds in tying Keasler with Presiding Judge Sharon Keller in the public's mind, since they reside in the same faction on the court.

Kurt Kuhn (D) vs. Melissa Goodwyn (R), Austin's Third Court of Appeals, Place 4: See this writeup from a publication out of Round Rock profiling both candidates. This is another hotly contested regional race where the winner (and maybe the loser) will likely need to raise TV-level money to compete.

Fourteenth Court of Appeals: There are three competitive races for appellate seats in the 14th Court of Appeals south of Houston. In the 2008 general election, the Republican chief justice on that court was re-elected by a narrow 51-49 margin, meaning the electorate in this historically conservative southeast Texas district could be ready for a change in direction.

Will Democrat-favoring trends continue in Dallas and Houston judicial races? Without going into the individual contests, 2010 will likely determine for some time whether judicial contests in these cities are competitive or if Democrats will control these races going forward.

What judicial races are you watching in this fall's general election?

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