So why did onetime District Court Judge and frequent candidate John Devine decide to challenge Supreme Court Justice David Medina in this year’s GOP primary? A couple of his colleagues in Harris County offer a reason that isn’t very flattering.
Devine “couldn’t provide us with a philosophical reason (to oppose Medina). He could not point to one opinion that he had a problem with,” said Scott Link, a former Harris County district judge who had set up the lunch with Devine.
“It was just, ‘I could beat a guy with a Mexican name,’ ” Link said Thursday. “I was offended on several levels.”
Speaking by phone Thursday, Link said he set up the July 2011 lunch at Brennan’s of Houston — and invited fellow lawyer Frank Harmon — to try to talk Devine out of opposing Medina, a candidate whom Link and Harmon supported.
Devine declined suggestions that he target another race, they said.
Devine received 32 percent of the vote in the May 29 Republican primary, forcing a runoff against Medina (39 percent), a member of the state’s highest civil court since 2004.
Harmon, a 40-year lawyer, confirmed Link’s account of the lunch.
“This happened, and it’s awful,” Harmon said. “He said he wanted a job and people with Mexican names tend to lose in Republican primaries, and regrettably there is some evidence to support that.”
Harmon said Devine pointed to two Hispanic candidates defeated in the 2010 GOP primaries: Victor Carillo, a former Texas Railroad Commission chairman, and Leo Vasquez, a former Harris County tax assessor- collector.
I don’t much like having to defend John Devine, who’s a nut and who scored very poorly on the Houston Bar Association poll (which, yes, I know is more popularity contest than anything else), but in a court of law this would be called “hearsay” and would be inadmissible. Devine has since vigorously denied the allegation. You can see his full statement here. Obviously, I wasn’t there for this meeting, and I have no knowledge of who did or didn’t say what. Devine has lost a lot more elections than he’s won and really isn’t that strong a candidate, but Medina has weaknesses as well, including that arson saga and his financial situation. He should be vulnerable, as his 39% performance in May suggests. Whoever wins the runoff will be on the bench next year, as there is no Democrat running (sigh). We’ll see if this story has any effect.