If former State Rep. Rick Green wins his primary runoff against Fort Worth family court judge Debra Lehrmann for the Supreme Court Place 3 nomination, he will join Railroad Commission nominee David Porter as a second underqualified Republican candidate on the statewide ballot. It’s clear that the GOP establishment gets this, and they are working to avoid it.
[Thursday,] five former state Supreme Court justices — Tom Phillips, Craig Enoch, Deborah Hankinson, Barbara Culver, and Alberto Gonzales — [threw] their weight behind Lehrmann in her bid for the nomination.
“It’s not unprecedented, but it is rare” for a coalition of former justices to publicly push a candidate in a closely contested race, says veteran judicial campaign consultant Todd Olsen. (Olsen worked for Houston Court of Appeals Justice Jeff Brown, who lost to Green and Lehrmann in the primary.)
It last happened in 2004, when all of the then-living former justices endorsed San Antonio Court of Appeals Justice Paul Green’s successful primary challenge against sitting GOP Justice Steven Wayne Smith. Just two years earlier, Smith had ousted incumbent Xavier Rodriguez, who Gov. Rick Perry had just appointed to the bench, a win some attributed to the perils of having a Hispanic name in a Republican primary. (See Victor Carillo, David Porter, and “The Elefante in the Room”). From any perspective, however, it was an upset victory: The little-known Smith spent only $9,500 in his race, while Rodriguez doled out more than $550,000.
In case you’re wondering, the Democratic nominee for Place 3 is Houston’s Jim Sharp, who was elected to the First Court of Appeals in 2008. You can see why those guys might be concerned about qualifications.
Powerbrokers have lined up against him, but Green, who did not respond to a request for comment, may still have reason to smile. His campaign has more 13,000 Facebook fans — a base that’s nothing to sniff at, especially in an obscure runoff race that doesn’t have a noisy gubernatorial contest drawing voters to the polls — and the support of rightwing celebrities like Chuck Norris, motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, and the stars of TLC’s “18 Kids and Counting,” Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar.
I don’t think I can really add anything to that. I mean hey, why should the Court of Criminal Appeals have all the fun?