Two upsets in district attorneys elections in Texas’ three largest cities have important implications for criminal justice politics in the state, says the Grits for Breakfast blog. In Houston’s Harris County, incumbent Devon Anderson eked out a victory over over Democrat Kim Ogg, who blundered badly in the home stretch. In Dallas, ticket splitting Democrats handed incumbent Craig Watkins a bitter loss to a party-switching moderate, Judge Susan Hawk. In San Antonio’s Bexar County, Democrat Nico LaHood bought his way to victory with backing from a Corpus Christi trial lawyer, allowing LaHood to flood the local TV with commercials and defeat incumbent Susan Reed.
Grits for Breakfast attributes the upsets to Watkins’ “ceaseless blunders and tone-deaf pronouncements in Dallas and LaHood getting $600K+ to go after a feared but not particularly well-liked incumbent on television.” Watkins was known nationally for his work exonerating innocent convicts. His campaign consultant, Mark Littlefield, told the Dallas Morning News his battles with the news medi and with other Democrats probably contributed to his failed re-election bid. Reed’s departure marks the end of an era. With former prosecutors in Dallas and Houston, she “promoted a highly politicized version of ‘tuff on crime.’ ” It all amounts to a changing of the guard among the state’s elected prosecutors.