Texas Judicial Elections Updated 03/16/04
Article states that several Democratic candidates for judicial office in Texas are running as Republicans in order to appear more appealing to voters. Candidates note that Texas’ embrace of the GOP in the 1990s has made it virtually impossible to win a judicial election as a Democrat. Indeed, six of the nine statewide judicial races in the 2000 election have only Republican candidates. None of the three Republican state Supreme Court justices running for re-election has drawn a Democratic opponent. Two of the justices, however, are being challenged in the Republican primary by “sometime Democrats” running as Republicans. Experts speculate that one of those challengers, Houston lawyer Valorie Davenport, is being supported by the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, whose leaders vowed to run a candidate against conservative Justice Nathan Hecht. She and officials with the group deny the allegations. Mary Flood, Candidates for Court Cross Lines, Wall St. J., January 12, 2000.
The campaign for three open seats on the Illinois Supreme Court has become the most expensive in the state’s history. So far, the candidates have raised approximately $2.72 million for the March 21st primary. According to the State Board of Elections, the three top candidates (in terms of contributions) raised more money in 1999 than any other person has ever raised or spent during an entire Illinois Supreme Court campaign. U.S. District Judge and former Illinois Congressman Abner Mikva said that the amount of campaign contributions brings Illinois’ judicial election in line with states such as Texas, where “every special interest in the state -- the insurance, the defense bar, everybody -- is in there with big bucks to promote their candidates.” Mark Schauerte, Fund-Raising for Supreme Court Primaries Breaks Records, Chicago Lawyer, February 28, 2000.
3. Op-ed discusses judicial elections in Texas, and argues that a recent conversation between the author and a former state judge “raise[d] valid questions about the wisdom of electing our judges in Texas rather than using a system of appointment with retention elections.” In Texas, the piece asserts, “judges labor along in anonymity until they make a controversial decision and become lighting rods at election time.” Consequently, “others watch the potential train wreck occur and determine they won’t make a ruling that will leave them vulnerable. When that happens, the potential loser is always justice.” Henry Tatum, Partisan System Deforms Justice, Dallas Morning News, March 1, 2000.
4. Article discusses the upcoming Illinois Supreme Court election, which promises to be the most expensive in the state’s history. Seth Anderson, director of the Hunter Center for Judicial Selection, stated, “Illinois historically has not experienced this type of really big money judicial campaign. Other states like