An Historic Election


Sure, a Black man was elected president, but the big news in yesterday’s election comes from Harris County, Texas, which has a functioning 2-party political system for the first time since 1996. That year was the last in which a Democrat won a countywide race. Until last night.

In this year’s countywide races there were several Republican winners: County Judge Ed Emmett (the County Judge is the County’s chief executive; Emmett performed well during Hurricane Ike recently), District Attorney Pat Lykos (in a 4,000-vote squeaker), and County Tax Assessor Paul Bettencourt.

Democratic candidates took the County Attorney’s Office, the District Clerk’s Office, and the Sheriff’s Office.

In Harris County’s 17 civil district court races, Republican incumbents lost every bench but three (one of those three is too close to call until all the overseas ballots are counted). I hope that the Democratic civil judges will be a little less liberal in granting corporations’ motions for summary judgment — injured people need restorative justice, and the criminal justice system doesn’t need any more refugees from the plaintiffs’ bar.

In the races that matter most to the criminal-defense lawyer, those for nine of Harris County’s 22 criminal district (felony) courts, there was (nearly) a Dallas-style sweep. In every race but one, the Democratic candidate won. The exception is the 351st Judicial District, in which Republican incumbent Mark Kent Ellis defeated Democratic challenger Mekisha Walker. (I would welcome any explanation why Judge Ellis beat Mekisha Walker while Caprice Cosper lost by a larger margin than Brian Rains).

You might remember that back in February I opined that, if we had to have a sweep, a Democratic sweep would be better than a Republican sweep. What the Harris County voters delivered was not perfect — Harris County has lost a couple of good judges, and picked up a couple of real question marks (to put it gently — I do have to practice before these people for the next four years) — but it was even better than a Democratic sweep.

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