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Buying Time 2012: Texas

Expensive, partisan judicial races are not new in Texas. Beginning in the mid-1980s -- when substantial money was spent to elect Republicans perceived to be receptive to business interests and defeat Democrats perceived to be friendly to plaintiffs’ lawyers -- Texans have seen a number of hard-fought, expensive state supreme court campaigns.

Published: May 17, 2012

For information on Texas's spending, and all other television spending in state supreme court races, click here.

Expensive, partisan judicial races are not new in Texas. Beginning in the mid-1980s – when substantial money was spent to elect Republicans perceived to be receptive to business interests and defeat Democrats perceived to be friendly to plaintiffs’ lawyers – Texans have seen a number of hard-fought, expensive state supreme court campaigns.  According to a comprehensive analysis of judicial elections from 2000-2009, when accounting for candidate fundraising and independent spending on TV ads, Texas was the fourth most expensive state for judicial elections during that decade.  And while spending nationally was down in the 2009-2010 state Supreme Court election cycle, Texas ranked third for candidate fundraising.

In 2012, there were three open positions on the November ballot. Justice Don Willett won the May 29th Republican primary against former Supreme Court Justice Steve Smith and went on to defeat Libertarian candidate Robert Stuart Koelsch in the general election. Former District Judge John Devine won a seat after defeating Justice David Medina and attorney Joe Pool in the Republican primary, and Libertarian challenger Tom Oxford and Green party challenger Charles Waterbury in the general election. Justice Nathan Hecht ran unopposed in the primary and defeated Democratic candidate Michele Petty, Libertarian candidate Mark Ash, and Green Party candidate Jim Chisholm in the general election.

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May 7, 2012- Most Conservative Judge

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An ad sponsored by the campaign of Justice Don Willett says conservative leaders describe him as "the  judicial remedy to Obamacare."


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Ben Philpott, In Texas, a Never-Ending Battle Over Judicial Elections, Texas Tribune, March 30, 2012.