In spite of large campaign contributions from Southeast Texas trial lawyers, Galveston District Court Judge Susan Criss has lost out on her bid to secure the Democratic nomination for a seat on the Texas Supreme Court.
Her opponent, South Texas appeals court judge Linda Reyna Yanez, defeated Criss in the Texas primary with 1,026,991 votes, or 51.44 percent. Criss earned 969,204 votes, or 48.55 percent.
The two were vying for the Democratic nomination for justice of Place 8 on the state's highest court, hoping to unseat Republican incumbent Justice Phil Johnson in November.
Yanez made a name for herself when she was appointed by Democratic Gov. Ann Richards to serve on the Texas Court of Appeals for the 13th District in 1993, making her the first Hispanic woman to become a justice on any appeals court in the state of Texas.
South Texas counties where Yanez serves helped bring home a victory for her in the Texas Democratic Primary.
In Hidalgo County, which includes the city of Edinburg, Yanez earned 50,056 votes or 82.48 percent. Criss earned 10,632 votes, or 17.51 percent.
Yanez' lead was not as strong in Nueces County, where Corpus Christi is the county seat, earning 69.31 percent, or 26,031 votes. Criss pulled in 11,526 votes, or 30.68 percent of the votes in Nueces County.
Where Criss had victories however were the Southeast Texas counties, where she had many supporters among the trial lawyers that often have business in her Galveston court.
In Galveston County, Criss earned 72.92 percent, or 22,628 votes. Yanez brought in 8,400 votes, or 27.07 percent of Galveston County votes.
Here in Jefferson County, Criss received 58.75 percent of the votes, or 14,848 votes cast. Yanez earned 41.24 percent, or 10,423 votes.
Criss' lead was even bigger in Orange County, where she received 10,063 votes, or 80.49 percent. There Yanez earned 2,439 votes, or 19.5 percent.
However Criss was not able to carry neighboring Harris County, where many of Houston's trial lawyers had contributed heavily to her campaign. Yanez earned 157,519 votes in Harris County, or 57.66 percent. Criss brought in 115,623 votes, or 42.33 percent.
Both women campaigned on the belief that Texas' highest court needed
a Democratic justice to balance the all-Republican bench.
"Sadly, extreme right judicial activism has taken over our state's highest court," Yanez states on her campaign Web site. "One-party rule has once again bred arrogance, group-think, and allowed the pay-for-play politics that favors insurance companies and large firms over consumers and decisions of juries made up of our peers. Regular Texans have every reason to question whether Justice is for sale."
Yanez will face Justice Phil Johnson in November, who has been on the court since 2005 after 20 years in private practice and six years as a justice and then chief justice on the 7th District Court of Appeals in Amarillo.