Perry, Republicans hold on to statewide offices in Texas

Marilyn Tennissen Nov. 2, 2010, 6:16pm


Although Democratic candidates received millions of dollars from trial lawyers, it was not enough to unseat Republican incumbents Gov. Rick Perry, Attorney General Greg Abbott or three justices on the state Supreme Court.

Receiving 57 percent of the votes, Perry will serve an unprecedented third consecutive term in Austin.

His Democratic opponent Bill White, who received just over 40 percent of the votes, campaigned on his accomplishments as a former mayor of Houston.

Trial lawyers spent more than $13 million in support of Democratic candidates, with Houston attorney Steve Mostyn, incoming president of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, contributing almost $6 million. A political action committee funded by Mostyn ran a series of attack ads against Perry.

According to Texans for Lawsuit Reform, 92 percent of the funding from the Texas Democratic Party came from the Texas Democratic Trust, a trial lawyer PAC founded by the late Fred Baron, an asbestos lawyer.

In addition to Mostyn and Baron, the top five trial lawyer contributors include John Eddie Williams, Nix Patterson & Roach and Provost Umphrey – three firms that were part of the 1998 $3.3 billion tobacco fee award. Other contributors include attorneys Mikal Watts, Mark Lanier and Joe Jamail, and firms Heard, Robins, Cloud & Lubel LLP and Reaud, Morgan & Quinn,

Abbott beat challenger Barbara Ann Radnofsky with 65 percent of the votes to begin his third term in office. His campaign focused on states' rights and lawsuits he has filed against the federal government on behalf of the state.

Abbott has taken part in lawsuits challenging the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Gulf of Mexico oil drilling bans and the national health care overhaul. He's also supported Arizona, filing a legal brief against the Obama administration on the state's right to pass a law cracking down on illegal immigration.

Radnofsky, a former partner of Vinson & Elkins in Houston, was the 2006 Texas Democrat nominee for U.S. Senator.

Radnofsky had criticized Abbott, claiming the lawsuits against the federal government are politically motivated and would not benefit Texans.

Abbott has held the Attorney General's post since 2002 after serving as a Texas Supreme Court justice and a district court judge in Houston. He was also in private practice at Butler and Binion and at Bracewell and Patterson before holding public office and taught constitutional law at the University of Texas School of Law.

Receiving 62 percent of the votes, Deborah Lehrmann will serve her first full term as Texas Supreme Court Justice for Place 3 after being nominated to fill seat of retiring Justice Harriet O'Neill. Prior to her appointment, Lehrmann served as a district judge in Fort Worth, and was named by Gov. Perry as a Uniform Law Commissioner.

She received endorsements from the Houston Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, Austin American-Statesman and the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

Her opponent Democrat Jim Sharp is a judge on the Texas First District Court of Appeals.

Incumbent Justice Paul Green hung on to his seat on Place 5 with 62 percent of the votes and Justice Eva Guzman will continue to serve in Place 9 after also receiving 62 percent of the votes.

Green was elected to the Supreme Court of Texas in 2004. Before joining the court, he served for 10 years as a justice on the Fourth Court of Appeals in San Antonio. During his career as a lawyer, Justice Green served as president of the San Antonio Bar Association, director of the State Bar of Texas, and as a member of the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association.

Guzman was appointed a Harris County judge in 1999, and was elected to the post in 2000. Gov. Perry appointed Guzman to the Texas 14th Court of Appeals, and she won elections to fill the unexpired term in 2002 and to a full term in 2004.

Other Republican incumbents staying in office include Todd Staples as Commissioner of Agriculture, Jerry Patterson as Commissioner of the General Land Office, Susan Combs as Comptroller of Public Accounts, David Dewhurst as Lt. Governor.

Republican David Porter was elected as Railroad Commissioner.

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