Texans head to the polls! Stay with The Record for primary results!

Marilyn Tennissen Mar. 4, 2008, 1:44am

The polls are now open for the Texas primaries, where much of the national attention will be on the Democratic race for the presidential nomination. But the Texas ballots also include races that could affect the state's judicial makeup.

The Southeast Texas Record will focus its coverage on the Texas Supreme Court, where Democratic candidates are vying to secure their place on the ticket to try to unseat two incumbent Republican justices.

For Justice-Place 7, Sam Houston and Baltasar Cruz are on the Dem's ticket, where one will face incumbent Dale Wainwright, a Republican who has been justice since 2003.

Cruz is a Dallas attorney and graduate of Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He has been a civil litigant in Dallas County since 1991.

Houston is a board certified personal injury trial lawyer who graduated from the University of Texas and Baylor law school. After practicing at Andrews & Kurth, he started his own firm in Houston in 1992.

The Place 8 race has Susan Criss and Linda Reyna Yanez seeking the Democratic nomination for a chance to unseat Republican Phil Johnson in November.

Criss is a Galveston County district court judge, who has made a name for herself and garnered the support of area trial lawyers as she presides over the litigation resulting from the 2005 explosion at the BP refinery in 2005.

Yanez is currently a justice on the Texas Court of Appeals-13th District. She graduated from the South Texas College of Law and then earned a master of laws from the University of Virginia Law School. She has also been a clinical instructor at Harvard Law School.

In Beaumont's Ninth District Court of Appeals, it is two Republicans who are facing off for chief justice. Steve McKeithen is making a bid for re-election, with Jay Wright hoping to unseat the incumbent.

Wright, a Montgomery county lawyer, is a former prosecutor with 22 years of experience in civil and criminal law. McKeithen was elected as chief justice for the Ninth District in 2002 after serving as civil division chief for the Montgomery County Attorney's Office.

Among other races The Record will be watching is the Democratic race for Texas Railroad Commissioner. The Railroad Commission has several regulatory divisions that oversee the Texas oil and gas industry, gas utilities, pipeline safety, safety in the liquefied petroleum gas industry and the surface mining of coal.

Three Dems -- Mark Thompson, Dale Henry and Art Hall – are seeking an opportunity to face Republican incumbent Michael Williams.

Four Democrats are on the ticket to unseat U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican. Democratic candidates are Ray McCurry, Gene Kelly, Rhett Smith and Rick Noriega.

Watch for e-mail alerts from The Record for updates as election results come in!

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