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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.”


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