For the last decade or so many GOP candidates, many of them with stances on issues that a majority of Texans disagree with, have been getting elected and reelected without having to explain themselves. Many of them are in positions that aren’t very publicized but have a serious effect on our every day lives. Primarily in public education and the state courts.
Lorenzo Sadun is running for the Democratic nomination for the State Board of Education (SBOE) District 10, which includes Williamson County. Here’s a BOR post from last month on his campaign, Lorenzo Sadun for SBOE-10. Looking at the latest campaign treasurer filings the GOP incumbent, who has some odd stances on issues, Cynthia Dunbar is running for reelection. In a campaign flyer Sadun had this to say:
Are you tired of the State Board of Education’s antics? Are you tired of being represented by Cynthia Dunbar, who refuses to send her kids to school, who calls public education “tyrannical” and “a subtle instrument of perversion,” and who turns every issue before the Board into a test of faith?
Most of us are tired of that kind of thing in our state education board. Sadun is a scientist and professor at the University of Texas. He’s also taught religion and served as the director of his congregation’s religious school. In his flyer he goes on to say.
“He knows that public education needs to stay strictly secular, not because we don’t respect each other’s religious views, but because we do”.
His web site is not up yet, but when it is we will be sure to post it here. There are two other candidates listed with treasures – according to the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC). One is a Republican and it will be instersting to see how Dunbar is attacked in the GOP primary. It’s likely there will be several Democratic candidates in the primary as well, since the incumbent has made it so obvious that she needs to be replaced.
As Grits pointed out so well the day after the 2008 election, the statewide court races are likely to be [the] spearpoint of Texas Dems’ future statewide success.
For the most part,the power of incumbency is an amazing inertial barrier to enacting change in the judiciary through the ballot box, as Texas’ election results last night ably demonstrated.
Democrats challenging for statewide judicial seats couldn’t quite get over the hump: Court of Criminal Appeals candidate Susan Strawn and the seldom-seen J.R. Molina, along with a pair of Texas Supreme Court candidates, all fell short of a majority, though once again they were the highest Democratic vote getters on the statewide ballot, posting especially solid numbers in urban areas.
Think of it this way, Court of Criminal Appeals candidate Susan Strawn, with a minimal budget and no voter outreach,got 92,695 more statewide votes than Democratic Senate candidate Rick Noriega who ran a significant grassroots campaign and was on TV in several markets. For whatever reason, Texas voters appear to dislike Republican judges in greater numbers than they do other statewide pols. (Emphasis added).
As Texas continues to shift demographically from rural to urban and the Latino vote increases in importance, these electoral trends all favor Democrats and it won’t be long before Ds begin picking up statewide races, inevitably starting with judicial appellate seats. In close races where every vote counts, it will be judicial races, ultimately, that become the spearpoint of Democrats’ statewide electoral success. Mark my words.
The reason voters “dislike” GOP judges is because the perceive they are only ruling the way they are because of the huge campagn donations they are raking in from GOP donors, (see this EOW post for more). The vast majoriy of Texans want fair judges, not partisan judges. And with judges elected on a partisan basis the only way to bring fairness back is to elect some Democrats.
Grits has more today on exactly which judges in which races Dems’ should target, Meyers, Keasler, should be Dems’ CCA electoral targets.
The Dallas News’ Michael Landauer writes that “Lawrence Meyers, the longest-serving member of the Court of Criminal Appeals, says he’s running for re-election. In doing so, he cites the court’s reputation for fairness. Try not to laugh.” The other two Texas CCA judges up in 2010 are Michael Keasler and Cheryl Johnson, all Republicans.
There is no liberal wing on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. There’s a conservative wing, to which Judge Johnson belongs, and a more or less totalitarian wing, in which Keasler and Meyers reside along with Presiding Judge Sharon Keller.
In essence what’s happened in many of the SBOE and statewide court races is the Texas GOP’s primary voter’s choices have been able to sail to election, or reelection, without having to answer for their record, or explain themselves on this issues. That will no longer be the case. Those who’ve been elected simply because they were the most pleasing the the GOP primary voter, or had an “R” next to their name will now have to make their case to every voter in Texas. Not just the GOP primary voters. No more free rides.