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Devon Anderson named interim DA

We’d been waiting for an announcement about this.

Devon Anderson

Devon Anderson, the widow of recently deceased Harris County District Attorney Mike Anderson, was appointed Tuesday to serve out her late husband’s unexpired term.

Gov. Rick Perry announced Tuesday that Anderson, of Bellaire, would take the place of her husband, who died of cancer Aug. 31.

The announcement came after the head of the Harris County Republican Party said Devon Anderson would be the best choice to fill the vacancy at the top of the largest district attorney’s office in Texas.

Here’s that story.

Devon Anderson, the widow of recently deceased Harris County District Attorney Mike Anderson, is the local GOP leadership’s choice to replace her late husband, the head of the party said Monday.

“The person who would be the best to fill Mike’s shoes, and they’re big shoes to fill, would be his wife,” said Jared Woodfill, chairman of the Harris County Republican Party. “I’m hopeful that the governor will appoint her to carry on Mike’s legacy. She’s very, very qualified for the position.”

Woodfill put his sentiments in a letter to Gov. Rick Perry who will appoint someone to fill the unexpired term of Mike Anderson, who lost his battle with cancer Aug. 31.

Woodfill said he is urging Devon Anderson to ask for the appointment, and said she is considering it.

[…]

The news surprised some courthouse insiders who thought Belinda Hill, Anderson’s first assistant, would succeed him. Hill left the bench she had held for 15 years in January to help Mike Anderson run the office.

“Everyone here believes Belinda Hill would be an excellent DA,” said one courthouse Republican who asked not to be identified. “That said, Devon Anderson is highly qualified and will make an excellent DA. It’s poetic to see her fulfill her husband’s legacy, if she decides to do it.”

The process to choose a new district attorney appears to be frozen until Devon Anderson decides, according to the source.

“Either way, the issue needs to be resolved soon,” the source said. “The office needs the certainty of knowing who’s leading them long term.”

I’m certain Devon Anderson is well qualified for the job, and I wish her all the best at it. I’m not surprised that Perry was soliciting input from the local party, and I’m not surprised that Devon Anderson was given deference, but I am a little surprised that Belinda Hill, for whom the Chron advocated shortly after Mike Anderson’s death, wasn’t named early on. I’m not plugged into GOP politics, so I don’t know the backstory. Murray Newman, citing a KTRK report on Woodfill’s letter that added some other names to the mix, provides some detail.

First Assistant Belinda Hill is also a phenomenal candidate. She’s highly respected by both the Defense Bar and the Prosecution. She’s already received the unsolicited endorsement of the Houston Police Officers’ Union. However, it has never been clear whether or not Belinda actually wants the job. Although she had been elected Judge of the 230th District Court for several terms, there is a big difference on the campaign trail when one is running for judge and when one is running for District Attorney. It is an unfortunate fact of life that politics plays a tremendous part in keeping your job as District Attorney. A person may love the job description of being District Attorney but (rightfully and sanely) have no desire to hit the campaign trail for it.

There were other hopefuls for the job, and it’s possible we’ve not heard the last of them. Anderson have to run twice, next year and in 2016, in order to keep the job. If you don’t relish the idea of campaigning, that’s a lot to contemplate, which may be why Belinda Hill was hesitant. While I believe Anderson would be likely to outperform the Republican baseline next year, as would Hill had she been selected, getting elected either year is not a sure thing. It won’t surprise me if someone, perhaps one of the rejected applicants and/or someone from the Pat Lykos office, mounts a primary campaign, and the general election won’t be a walk. Assuming the Democrats don’t Lloyd Oliver themselves again, you can be sure the 2014 race will be high profile. Texpatriate has more.

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