The Chron’s characterization of the GOP primary race for District Attorney as a nasty fight between polite people strikes me as apt.
Complaints about Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos buzz through Houston’s criminal courthouse.
Assistant district attorneys, police officers and criminal justice bloggers talk about her being targeted by two grand jury investigations and being roundly criticized by law enforcement.
She even drew a challenger, retired judge Mike Anderson, in the May 29 Republican primary.
According to political scientists and consultants, however, the voters most likely to decide between the two do not seem to care about insider talk. Lykos is raising more, spending more and enjoying support from other office holders and high-ranking Republicans.
“The stuff that’s gone on now is decidedly nasty, but it’s not something non-lawyers can really get their arms around,” said Democratic strategist Joe Householder, who is not connected to the race. “The stakes are large, but the interest level is low because people just don’t follow that kind of thing.”
Most voters, he said, are focused on presidential politics.
For better or worse they have less to focus on now. Be that as it may, I’d say that if the predictions about this primary being a low-turnout affair are correct – I’m not convinced they are; I think we’re in for a more or less normal level of turnout, say like what we had in 2004 – then it seems to me that the people who will be voting are the ones who care about it more and thus are likely to pay attention to races beyond the top of the ticket. Who that may or may not help in this race is a question I’m not qualified to answer. I don’t have a dog in this fight, I’m looking at November and Zack Fertitta. Having said that, I do have a couple of quibbles with this story. First:
Jones and others said the warring, although fierce in the trenches of social media, is not likely to be noticed by most Republicans until a month before the May 29 primary.
Lykos said she has been appalled by the allegations against her. “They’re running a vicious campaign against me,” she said.
Anderson said he stays out of the acrimony that has surfaced in online forums.
“Those guys have been fighting it out,” Anderson said of bloggers who have been exchanging body blows about the candidates. “I don’t read that stuff – people get nasty sometimes.”
The article spends a lot of time talking about the fact that there’s a proxy war going on in blogs and elsewhere on the Internet, but it never gives any specific information about who’s saying what about whom. I don’t understand the reason for being so oblique. Why not at least mention that Murray Newman and David Jennings are the main combatants? For goodness’ sake, they both have Chron blogs and have done some of that sparring on the Chron’s very pages. What’s with the They Who Must Not Be Named routine?
Lykos also lowered the penalties for suspects found with crack cocaine residue or crack pipes, infuriating area police.
District attorneys don’t have that power. What Lykos did was establish a policy that her office would not pursue felony charges against people arrested for possessing trace amounts – i.e., less that 0.01 grams – of drugs. This policy has been in place since 2010 (it was announced in December of 2009), and for the record I agree with it. It would not have been any longer or more complicated to get this right.