Former candidates and officeholders have a way of popping up in the strangest places. If you're planning a trip to the Caribbean, keep your eye out for District 25 congressional loser Tom Reiser, who is selling his home in the Southside area and planning a long vacation.
Shortly before the election, Republican Reiser sold his firm to get out of the insurance business. After his defeat by Democrat Chris Bell, Reiser has told friends that he and his wife will pilot their 64-foot luxury sailboat from Florida to the Bahamas for a six-month chill-out cruise.
Not so fortunate is Stephen Mansfield, the Houston lawyer who blazed out of nowhere in 1994 to win a judgeship on the state Court of Criminal Appeals.
Mansfield campaigned by barnstorming the state in rent cars, claiming legal experience and a Texas birthplace he didn't have, while concealing a previous bust for pot and a beating by a woman he met through the personal ads.
His six-year term as a judge was marred by a conviction for trespassing in Austin while trying to scalp complimentary tickets to the Texas-Texas A&M Thanksgiving Day game. Mansfield did not seek re-election in 2000. An appeals court comeback attempt last year flopped when he lost in the GOP primary.
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For a while Mansfield made his living as a visiting judge in Angleton. He told associates that the assignments dried up recently because the visiting-judge program is up for renewed funding before the legislature, and he was considered a potential embarrassment.
So where is Stevie Wonder now? Although he did not return Insider calls, the former jurist complained to local Republicans that he is making ends meet as a uniformed security guard at the Texas Medical Center.
A county source says he got a call from a dumbfounded security company official trying to verify that a guard applicant was indeed a former appeals judge. Mansfield may now be the most overqualified security guard in Houston history.
But even as he walks his beat, the ex-justice dreams of future electoral triumph. According to a source, Mansfield plans to go to court yet again -- via the 2004 statewide ballot, when more criminal appeals judgeships are up for grabs. Till then, the only opinions he'll be issuing may be citations for parking violators at the Med Center garages.