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Over at the Harris County District Attorney's office, veteran prosecutor Chuck Rosenthal has already got his big Christmas present: the decision by Judge Ted Poe not to run for the seat to be vacated by Johnny Holmes Jr. Rosenthal looked like a long shot when he announced for the GOP nomination ahead of everyone else. With the popular Poe out of the way, he's firmly in the driver's seat, having picked up the support of westside kingmaker Steven Hotze.
Republican attorney Jim Leitner, a former assistant district attorney, will provide an alternative. With good conservative credentials as well as the respect of the defense bar, he might have a shot at the mercurial Rosenthal, who has styled himself as a Johnny Holmes junior, right down to a moustache.
If Santa were really in a nice mood, he'd bring the local Democratic Party a full set of candidates for the county positions at stake in 2000. As it is, chairman Sue Schechter is touting former Texas Southern University president and law school dean James Douglas as a possibility for district attorney. There's a real question whether Douglas, who was ousted from the TSU presidency, could win an election for big man on campus, much less carry the GOP-dominated county.
Likewise, there's talk that HPD veteran and mayoral anti-gang task force director Adrian Garcia is considering a run for sheriff. That shouldn't cause incumbent Tommy Thomas to lose any sleep.
According to Democratic activist David Jones, what the local party is really doing is recruiting sacrificial lambs who can draw out the minority vote next November.
What those voters will find when they get to the polls is far from certain. With the recent departure of state district judge Katie Kennedy, the only Democratic judge left on the area bench is First Court of Appeals Justice Eric Andell. The party is going with a strategy which would bypass the judicial races, leaving most incumbent Republicans without a Democratic challenger next year.
"Does [Schechter] expect me to ask people to fall on their swords [as county candidates] for one or two judges out of 70?" asks a bemused Jones.
Guess he hasn't been infected by the Christmas spirit of giving yet.
Play Santa; deliver your news tips to the Insider. Call him at (713)280-2483, fax him at (713)280-2496, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.By Tim Fleck