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It was an unusual judicial appointment by Bush standards. Jamison, a longtime Democrat who ran for judge on the party ticket in 1994, only recently converted to the Republican Party. The appointment also came less than a week before the deadline for filing in the GOP primary, and after three other candidates had already entered the 164th primary race.
The post previously belonged to the last Democratic district judge in Harris County, Katie Kennedy, who resigned to take a court appointment overseeing the distribution of breast-implant settlement money.
Now the question of the moment in Harris County GOP circles is whether the governor's team will fight to help his appointment hold her seat in a primary where opponents are already delving into Jamison's Democratic record. Among the bones being excavated are old Jamison campaign expenditures for an advertisement with the Houston Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus and a luncheon at Planned Parenthood. In conservative GOP ranks, associations with those two groups are as potentially lethal to candidates as the Ebola virus. Jamison also supported Senate Democratic candidate John Odom against Phil Gramm back in her yellow-dog Dem days.
Consultant Allen Blakemore, who works for 164th candidate and attorney Frank Gerold, says that the governor's team has not yet pressured candidates to drop out.
Consultant Mary Jane Smith, who represents candidate Patrick Timmons, says Jamison doesn't understand how GOP primaries are very grassroots and "very lately dominated by the religious right."
"And she has some characteristics in her makeup that are going to be difficult for them to swallow," Smith says. "And frankly, Governor Bush is going to be very busy up in New Hampshire and Iowa and other places, and I don't see him coming in to campaign for her."
Bracewell & Patterson attorney Pat Oxford, an adviser to Bush's team on judicial appointments, counters that Jamison is not being thrown to the Republican wolves.
"She's his appointment, and I expect [Bush] to defend her fully," says Oxford. Bush and others have spent much energy trying to get Democrats to change parties, he says.
When former Democrats are defeated, "that has a chilling effect on other Democrats that are thinking of crossing. So for that reason alone, the governor's supporters like myself will be campaigning hard for her," Oxford says.
Jamison, who looks a bit like the sitcom actress Delta Burke, seems unconcerned. She dismisses the HGLPC and Planned Parenthood donations in 1994 as minor campaign-related activities. "I don't know that they symbolize much more than that."
Jamison was hopeful that other candidates for her bench might have a change of heart. "I certainly would understand if there was another race or another time that would be better for them."
As for the influence of the religious right in the upcoming GOP primary, Jamison has a quick comeback: "As a Sunday school teacher, I don't see why that would be a problem."
Might depend on the Sunday school.
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