Turkeys (and Other Creatures) On the Ballot

Quick! It's almost Election Day!! Do you know who your candidates are? Check this guide to the mother of all ballots!

Barkley would seem to be a soul mate of Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jerry Eversole, whose prodigious spending from his campaign account on greens fees, golf clothes and other amenities resulted in unresolved indictments for failing to properly maintain campaign finance records. "He doesn't have a clue," says one former associate. But he does have a putter.

Voters who'd like to tee off on either of these guys should remember that Barkley's opponent is Norma Jean Mancha, a former prosecutor, while Jim Lindeman, another former prosecutor, is challenging Eversole.

It should be noted that both of these golfin' fools are Republicans. While many Democrats can afford country club dues, most, of course, prefer midnight basketball.


Misleading Turkey
Texas Lawyer labeled Court of Criminal Appeals hopeful Steve Mansfield a "stealth" candidate for distorting his legal experience, failing to disclose his previous congressional races in New Hampshire, and claiming a long legal history in Texas when in fact he was licensed to practice law in Houston just two years ago. Mansfield, who's seeking a seat on the state's highest criminal appeals court against three-term incumbent Democrat Charles Campbell, also inflated his courtroom experience from a record of a few appearances in municipal courts to handling a hundred misdemeanor and criminal cases. Mansfield didn't even come clean on his place of birth. Far from being a native Texan, he was born in Massachusetts. To his credit, Mansfield did list 42 as his correct age.

Before those revelations, Mansfield had snagged the endorsement of the Houston Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus. But when conservative Republican leaders pressured him to disavow the endorsement, Mansfield asked the HGLPC to drop him from their list. It may be the first documented instance in which the state Republican leadership is on record doing a favor for a gay rights organization.

Turkey With Two Faces
Now here's a guy who's tried to keep his judicial feet planted both left and right, with a bit of tap dancing in between. David Jennings Willis, the Republican nominee for the 189th District Civil Court, took out several ads in the homophobic Link Letter totaling $400 while also asking for the Houston Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus endorsement during the same time period.

After he won the endorsement, Willis told the Press he had no plans to renounce it, à la Steve Mansfield (see above). But after the endorsement was publicized, Willis informed the HGLPC that he had indeed renounced its backing in a letter to state GOP officials. As it turned out, the HGLPC's "push cards" that it will distribute to voters at some polling locations had already been printed, but HGLPC president Terri Richardson told Willis she'd get volunteers to scratch his name off if he went through with the disavowal. At the end of the day, Willis called back to say "never mind." Maybe voters should, too.

A Turkey of a Friend
One indicator of how a candidate might perform as a judge is how he treats his best friends. By that measure, Carlos "C.C." Correa, a Democrat seeking the bench of the 232nd District Criminal Court, comes up woefully short. Correa, in an apparent effort to delay a court hearing on a lawsuit filed against him by the State Bar of Texas (a suit that could have resulted in his disbarment and rendered his candidacy moot, since he would have to be a lawyer to serve as a judge), pulled a flimflam on his good pal, state District Judge Lupe Salinas. Correa got Salinas to name him third counsel in a case that didn't need one by telling the lead attorney and Salinas that each had requested his presence, according to Salinas. That appointment gave Correa grounds to delay the court date on the State Bar's suit until after his Democratic primary contest with Eric Hagstette, a former prosecutor.

As it turned out, the maneuver was unnecessary, since a jury ruled in favor of Correa in the lawsuit. All it did was help tar Salinas' hopes for appointment by the Clinton administration to a federal judgeship. Harris County grand juries have been probing both Correa's and Salinas' campaign fund reports and recently returned two perjury indictments against Salinas. But it's hard to see how Correa's reports could land him in trouble, since he ponyed up most of the cash himself. A classic example of a candidate whose sole support is his own bank account, Correa loaned his campaign $31,430 from February through June of this year. He got only $835 in other contributions during the same period. Correa got equally minimal outside support in the bar poll, trailing his Republican opponent, prosecutor Mary Lou Keel, by a 3-to-1 margin.

The Turkey Who Won't Die
Bonnie Fitch just keeps knocking on the judicial door, even though voters rejected her three previous attempts to win a judgeship. Her latest effort is as the Democratic nominee for the 295th District Civil Court seat. With an abysmal bar poll rating (Houston lawyers went against her 4-to-1) and low estimations from Democratic Party activists who've rued her presence on the ballot in the past, Fitch has set herself up for another probable loss, this time to Republican Tracy Elizabeth Christopher. Maybe Fitch should consider following in some small footsteps by running for Sheila Jackson Lee's soon-to-be-vacant seat on Houston City Council. That job proved Lee's salvation after several failed attempts to win judicial posts.

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