Republican incumbent Justice David Medina lost his Texas Supreme Court Place 4 re-election bid to former Houston district court Judge John Devine in one of the Republican Party’s upsets in Tuesday’s runoff elections.
Medina had been in the Place 4 seat since November 2004, when he was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry.
But his endorsements from Republican Party establishment, including Perry and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, were not enough to pull him ahead of Devine.
Devine earned the seat on the high court with 498,937 votes, or 53.27 of votes cast. Medina garnered 437,637 votes, or 46.72 percent.
Devine, 53, a former Harris County District Court judge, first gained national attention when he battled to keep the Ten Commandments hanging in his courtroom.
He had also been an anti-abortion activist and was arrested several times outside abortion clinics in Austin and Corpus Christi during the 1980s.
During the campaign, Devine focused on attacking Medina on ethics, especially a 2008 indictment for arson against the justice and his wife over a fire that caused $1 million in damage to their home. The district attorney later threw out the charges. Medina’s lawyers said the fire was causes by an electrical malfunction.
In addition to Perry and Abbott, Medina has the support of six retired Republican Supreme Court justices, 22 members of the Texas Legislature and U.S. Congress and influential groups like Texans for Lawsuit Reform and the Texas Medical Association. Medina was also endorsed by Right to Life and Alliance for Life because of his pro-life stance.
Even a poll of the State Bar of Texas showed Medina as the overwhelming favorite among Texas lawyers. Devine came in last in state bar poll.
But Devine’s views made him a favorite of the Tea Party, and he had support from members of religious groups and conservative groups like the Eagle Forum, Concerned Women of Texas and the Liberty Institute, which fights legal battles on behalf of Christian issues.
The Supreme Court is the sixth political office Devine has sought since he was elected a district court judge in 1994. He ran for Congress twice and in 2010 he lost a race for district judge in Montgomery County.
Only days before the runoff, accusations of racism popped up against Devine. Two Houston attorneys, Scott Link and Frank Harmon, claimed Devine told them he could beat “a guy with a Mexican last name.”
Devine denied the racist accusation and emphasized that his wife is from Columbia.