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!

In the roughly same category as Fitch with roughly the same prospects is Charles "Ernie" Hill, the Democratic challenger against Republican incumbent David West for the 269th District Civil Court bench. While other Democrats listed their qualifications in a Democratic Party broadside headlined "Know More," Hill's slogan would appear to be "Know Less," at least judging by the blurb he offered for the campaign piece: "My experience as a trial lawyer enables me to understand pressures and concerns of litigants, the need for uncompromised impartiality."

Say what?

Turkeys of a Feather
Texas Lawyer's investigation of Harris County's civil court-at-law judges is good reason for voters to un-elect incumbents Ed Landry, Carolyn Day Hobson and Charles Coussons.

The publication's exhaustive comparison of the relationship between special commissioners appointed by the judges to appraise property for state purchase and the campaign contributions the commissioners made to those judges exposed a well-greased buddy system. As reporter Mark Ballard wrote, "Doing little or no work for unusually large fees, Harris County's special commissioners have cost Texas taxpayers an extra $50 million in land acquisition costs since mid-1988."

Landry, who likes to chow down at Mandola's on his campaign account tab, twice appointed the owner of that restaurant a special commissioner. Asked why she repeatedly hired her hairdresser as a special commissioner, Hobson told the Press, "She's now deceased. And I tell you what, I knew she had a bad heart, and I'm proud and pleased I made the last six years of a person's life on this earth happy!" That's the happiness that only taxpayers' money can buy.

If you believe what lawyers say about other lawyers, then believe the worst about Hobson. She took the biggest drubbing of any incumbent judge in the bar poll, losing to Republican challenger Lynn Bradshaw-Hull by a 2-to-1 margin in the sampling of local legal practitioners. Coussons, meanwhile, faces Republican Cynthia Crowe, who made a respectable showing in the bar poll, while Landry was a 4-to-1 winner over the GOP foe Gene Chambers.

Shoo-In Turkeys
With self-immolating U.S. Representative Craig Washington of Houston's 18th District having flamed out, the most liberal congressional district in the South now will elect a shoo-in Democrat who in no way measures up to Barbara Jordan or Mickey Leland, previous holders of the seat. That would be Sheila Jackson Lee, a City Council rhetorician known more for blow-and-go tactics than substantive lawmaking. Democrat Lee can be expected to coast to victory (barring an act of God) over three opponents, including the GOP's Jerry Burley, who'll find that running as a black Republican in a predominantly black district is still a steep uphill trek.

On the other side of the political fence, expect U.S. Representative Tom DeLay

to barely break a sweat in being elected (barring a bipartisan act of God) to another term representing the 22nd District. Having hitched his wagon to Newt Gingrich's apparently rising star, DeLay is so confident of victory he can afford to dole out his campaign money to other Republican congressional candidates as part of his effort to be chosen as Republican House Whip. The recent Houston Chronicle revelation that DeLay badgered NASA to consider a contract bid by an air conditioning company whose principals had contributed generously to his campaign unfortunately won't make much difference in his heavily Republican district. DeLay does have two opponents, including Democrat Scott Douglas Cunningham.

But some turkeys just can't be felled.

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