Judicial elections dominate campaign season

By Marilyn Tennissen | Feb 24, 2014

With all the campaign signs around Beaumont the last few weeks, it looks more like a presidential election than a party primary coming up on March 4.

One of the reasons for the campaigning is the number of judicial offices up for election or reelection, not the type of races that usually get much attention.

“Oftentimes, voters do not have a lot of information about judicial candidates, and they often don’t know where to look to find the most qualified candidate to vote for,” said George Christian of the Texas Civil Justice League. 


The TCJL has posted a new video that features former Texas Supreme Court Justice Dale Wainwright discussing the importance of educating voters about judicial elections.

Wainwright said a judge has a powerful position -- by signing an order, a family can lose its right to raise children, a business could lose its assets or a person could lose their life and be executed.

That’s why it’s so important to have judges that are experienced, that have outstanding moral character and have a judicial philosophy that they will not be legislating from the bench, Wainwright said.

When looking at candidates within the same party, as in the upcoming primaries, a voter should look at the candidates' experience and see if they have the backing of people that "understand what good judges look like," he said. 

Wainwright said being a judge is a selfless job, a judge is not there to follow his own individual agenda but to protect the constitution and enforce the rule of law.

"When judges start to impose their own philosophies and their own agendas we have inequity that seeps into the judicial system," Wainwright said.  

What's on the ballot

On the primary ballots, incumbent Republican Nathan Hecht is facing a challenger in his own party, Robert Talton, for Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court. One of them will face Democrat William Moody in the general election.

Three other incumbents on the state high court up for reelection are Jeff Brown, Jeff Boyd and Phil Johnson. Only Brown faces a primary opponent, Republican Joe Pool. Boyd and Johnson will have Democrat opponents in the fall.

Closer to home, several district judgeships in Jefferson County are on the ballots. Newly sworn-in Leanne Johnson will face Earl B. Stover III in the Republican Primary as candidate for the Ninth District Court of Appeals in Beaumont.

The 252nd District Court, which handles predominantly criminal cases, is wide open with the stepping down of Judge Layne Walker at the beginning of the year. Applying for the spot are Republican Carolyn Drawhorn Weidenfeld, and local attorneys Stella Morrison and Raquel West are facing each other in the Democratic Primary.

58th District Court Judge Bob Wortham has thrown his hat in the ring to become the next Jefferson County Criminal District Attorney. The Democrat will face assistant prosecutor Perry Thomas, a Republican in the general election.



Federal Offices

U.S. Senator

Ken Cope-R

Chris Mapp-R

John Cornyn-R

Curt Cleaver-R

Linda Vega-R

Dwayne Stovall-R

Steve Stockman-R

Reid Reasor-R

Harry Kim-D

Kesha Rogers-D

David M. Alameel-D

Michael “Fject” Fjectland-D

Maxey Marie Scherr-D


U.S. Representative, District 14

Randy Weber-R

Donald G. Brown-D

Gagan Panjhazari-D

Buck Willis-D


State Offices


Miriam Martinez-R

Lisa Fritsch-R

SECEDE Kilgore-R

Greg Abbott-R

Wendy R. Davis-D

Reynaldo “Ray” Madrigal-D


Lieutenant Governor

Jerry Patterson-R

Dan Patrick-R

Todd Staples-R

David Dewhurst-R

Leticia Van de Putte-D


Attorney General

Dan Branch-R

Barry Smitherman-R

Ken Paxton-R

Sam Houston-D


Commissioner of Agriculture

Sid Miller-R

J. Allen Carnes-R

Eric Opiela-R

Joe Cotton-R

Tommy Meritt-R

Jim Hogan-D

Hugh Asa Fitzsimons III-D

Richard “Kinky” Friedman-D


Commissioner of General Land Office

David Watts-R

George P. Bush-R

John Cook-D


Comptroller of Public Accounts

Glenn Hegar-R

Debra Medina-R

Raul Torres-R

Harvey Hilderbran-R

Mike Collier-D


Railroad Commissioner

Ryan Sitton-R

Wayne Christian-R

Becky Berger-R

Malachi Boyuls-R

Dale Henry-D

Steve Brown-D


Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Texas

Robert Talton-R

Nathan Hecht-R

William Moody-D


Justice, Supreme Court, Place 6, unexpired term

Jeff Brown-R

Joe Pool-R

Lance Edward Meyers-D


Justice, Supreme Court, Place 7

Jeff Boyd-R

Gina Benavides-D


Justice, Supreme Court, Place 8

Phil Johnson-R

Sharon McCally-R


Justice, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 4

Richard Dean Davis-R

Kevin Patrick Yeary-R

Jani Jo Wood-R


Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 9

W.C. “Bud” Kirkendall-R

David Newell-R


Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 3

John Granberg-D


Member, State Board of Education, District 7

David Bradley-R

Rita Ashley-R

Kathy King-D


Chief Justice, 9th Court of Appeals

Steve McKeithen-R


Justice, 9th Court of Appeals, Place 3, unexpired term

Earl B. Stover III-R

Leanne Johnson-R


Criminal District Judge

John “Johnny” B. Stevens Jr.-D


District Judge, 58th Judicial District

Tom Rugg-R

Kent Walston-D


District Judge, 172nd Judicial District

Rick Williams-R


District Judge, 252nd Judicial District

Carolyn Drawhorn Weidenfeld-R

Stella Batiste Morrison-D

Raquel West-D

Nathan “Buddy” Reynolds Jr.-D


Family Distict Judge, 317th Judicial District

Jolei A. Shipley-R

Larry Thorne-D


Family District Judge, 279th Judicial District

Randy Shelton-D


Criminal District Attorney

Perry Thomas-R

Bob Wortham-D


State Representative, District 22

Joe Deshotel-D


Jefferson County Offices

County Judge

Jeff R. Branick-D


Judge, County Court at Law No. 1

Gerald Eddins-D


Judge, County Court at Law No. 2

G. R. “Lupe” Flores-D


Judge, County Court at Law No. 3

Clint M. Woods-R

Terrance L. Holmes-D

Jimmy D. Hamm-D

Audwin Samuel-D


District Clerk

Charlie Wiggins-R

Karen Stewart-R

Rose Mitchell Chaisson-D

Stanley Hatcher-D

Jamie Smith-D


County Clerk

Doug Landry-R

Carolyn Guidry-D


County Treasurer

Tim Funchess-R


Justice of the Peace, Precinct No. 1, Place 2

Nancy Beaulieu-R


County Commissioner, Precinct No. 2

Brent A. Weaver-R


County Commissioner, Precinct No. 4

Everette “Bo” Alfred-D


Justice of the Peace, Precinct No. 7

Brad Burnett-R


County Chairman

Billy C. Oliver Jr.-R

Sheila Louviere Sachitano-D



Republican Party Referendums

Religious Freedom

Texans should be free to express their religious beliefs, including prayer, in public places

Vote Yes or No


Franchise Tax

Texans should abolish the state franchise tax, also known as the margins tax, to encourage business growth

Vote Yes or No


Welfare Reform

Texas recipients of taxpayer-funded public assistance should be subject to random drug testing as a condition of receiving benefits.

Vote Yes or No


No Lawmaker Exceptions

All elected officials and their staff should be subjected to the same laws, rules, regulations, and ordinances as their constituents.

Vote Yes or No



The Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” should be repealed.

Vote Yes or No



Democratic Party Referendums

On Immigration Reform

The United States Congress must pass immigration reform; including an earned path to citizenship for those individuals contributing to the economy and the dependents of those individuals.

Vote For or Against


A Living Wage for All Texans

Congress should pass legislation raising the federal minimum wage to at least 10% of the federal poverty level for a family of four without exception.

Vote For or Against



Medicaid Expansion

The Governor and the Texas Legislature should accept federal funds; as provided in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010; for the expansion of Medicaid to provide coverage to millions of uninsured and underinsured Texans.

Vote For or Against


On Non-Discrimination Legislation

The Congress and the Texas Legislature should adopt legislation that expands protections against discriminations in employment, housing, and public accommodations base upon sexual orientation or gender identity.

Vote For or Against





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