Persuasive Tex. Dems recruit veteran, web-star for SC vote stoush

Rob Luke Sep. 13, 2007, 10:47am

Judge Linda Yanez

AUSTIN -- A second woman has joined the Democratic Party race to confront sitting Texas Supreme Court Justice Phil Johnson in next year's statewide election.

Rio Grande Valley native Linda Reyna Yanez last week declared herself a candidate for Johnson's Place 8 on the Texas Supreme Court. Johnson was appointed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry in 2005.

Yanez, the senior justice on Texas's 13th Court of Appeals, told the Rio Grande Guardian that she had been recruited to run by senior Democrat figures in McAllen. Yanez said the party "believes that someone with my profile is very necessary on that ticket in order to carry the whole ticket."

That sets up a primary head-to-head with similarly high-profile Galveston judge Susan Criss, who declared herself a candidate for Johnson's spot in May, LNL reported.

Criss, a judge of the 212th District Court of Galveston County, is known as the "blogging judge" because of her well-documented Web-site "As the Island Floats" plus her own campaign web-site. She also said senior Democrat figures had recruited her to run for Johnson's Texas Supreme Court spot.

Several commentators doubt the wisdom of running Yanez and Criss for the same spot. "Any Democrat is likely to have an uphill race in a Supreme Court race next year, which means the Democratic Party can't afford to waste qualified candidates," wrote Clay Robinson in a Houston Chronicle op-ed piece.

And pro-Democrat writer Michael Hurta pointed out on liberal blogsite Burnt Orange Report yesterday that Yanez had options besides challenging an established judicial candidate. "[I]t would be much more beneficial to the party to have her spend her resources elsewhere," he noted.

Yanez was appointed to the Texas Court of Apeals in 1993 by Gov. Ann Richards, the first Hispanic woman ever to serve on that bench. She ran unsuccessfully for the state Supreme Court in 2002.

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