I have expressed my opinion on many occasions that the Democrats don’t have a chance to win a statewide race, aside from Bill White, in this election cycle. But some unexpected developments might prove me wrong. Their best shot is Jeff Weems, who is running for the Railroad Commission. This is the seat that is occupied by Victor Carrillo, who appeared to be running unopposed for reelection until the last day for filing, when a stealth candidate, David Porter of Midland, whose only contact with the oil industry is accounting, entered the race against him. Porter went on to win the race by some 20 points, a result that is attributable to the advantage of having an Anglo surname in a Republican primary. Weems, a Houston attorney, has worked for Shell Western E & P [exploration and production] and also worked as a landman. He is a member of the American Petroleum Institute and the National Association of Royalty Owners. His legal specialty is oil and gas litigation. Suddenly the Democrats find themselves with a candidate who is better qualified than the Republican nominee. Another possibility is Jim Sharp, who is the chief justice of the First Court of Appeals in Houston. Sharp is running for Place 3 on the Texas Supreme Court, a position vacated by the retiring Hariett O’Neill. Her retirement opened the door to a six-person free-for-all, which led to a runoff between the top two finishers, former legislator Rick Green and Fort Worth district judge Debra Lehrmann. I do not have enough words to express my dismay that Rick Green could serve on the Texas Supreme Court. I have had a lot of bad things to say about the state’s high court over the years, but even they don’t deserve Rick Green. These days Green identifies himself as a constitutional speaker and author for WallBuilders, an Aledo-based evangelical organization that promotes the moral and religious underpinnings in American history. Asked by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about his judicial experience, Green said [I’m quoting the paper here] that he “considered it an advantage to be the only candidate without judicial experience.” What the court needs, he said, is someone with legal and business and legislative experience. Part of Green’s legislative experience was getting in ethics trouble for using his Capitol office to film a health supplement infomercial. (As best I recall, it was touted as “brain powder.”) Don’t forget the time he went before the parole board to plead for the early release of a man who had loaned his father’s company $4000,000. Lehrmann has served as a district judge in Tarrant County for 22 years and is chairman-elect of the American Bar Association’s section on family law. I know I have been critical of TLR too, and their big spending on Court races, but, hey, Weekley, Trabulsi, Toomey, Linbeck: Where is TLR when we need you? Where is Citizen Leader PAC? If Green wins the runoff–and the shorter name is always a good bet–Sharp might get a lot of backing from the state’s legal community. Bill Moody, an El Paso district judge (and the father of State Representative Joe Moody), who led the Democratic ticket in 2006 with 1,877,909 votes — more votes than Rick Perry got in winning the governor’s race that year — is challenging Republican Paul Green for Place 5 on the Supreme Court. Democratic sources have told me that the trial lawyers are not going to be involved in court races this year — they are holding their fire for legislative races — so Moody is a long shot.
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