The swirling force of Texas politics

Lehrmann Wins GOP Texas Supreme Court Race

By KELLEY SHANNON
|  Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010  |  Updated 10:57 PM CDT
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Lehrmann Wins GOP Texas Supreme Court Race

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Longtime family law judge Debra Lehrmann leads former legislator and evangelical speaker Rick Green in a Republican runoff for the Texas Supreme Court.

Longtime family law judge Debra Lehrmann, who played up her judicial experience and her opponent's lack of it, defeated former legislator and evangelical speaker Rick Green on Tuesday in a Republican runoff for the Texas Supreme Court.

"We've been able to communicate to the voters that judicial experience is important," Lehrmann said as the final election results rolled in. "People want to know. People want good judges."

It was the only statewide race on the runoff ballot.

In Dallas County, embattled Precinct 5 Constable Jaime Cortes lost the Democratic nomination to Beth Villarreal. Villarreal took 58 percent of the vote, compared to Cortes' 42 percent.

Van Taylor beat Mabrie Jackson for the Republican nomination for the Texas House's District 66 in one of the most heated, costliest campaigns in Plano's history. Taylor took 58 percent of the vote, and Jackson had 42 percent.

The seat opened up after longtime state Rep. Brian McCall said he would not run for reelection.

Also in Collin County, challenger Cheryl Williams won against longtime Commissioner Jerry Hoagland. Williams had 59 percent of the vote, compared to Hoagland's 41 percent.

Texas voters also were choosing party nominees in several congressional and legislative races, and in a State Board of Education contest in which the Republican candidate who had the blessing of Christian conservatives on the board lost.

Lehrmann, who lives in Colleyville, had 52 percent of the vote with nearly 90 percent of precincts reporting. Green, a Dripping Springs resident who often speaks to home-schooler events and Tea Party rallies, had 48 percent.

Green finished first and Lehrmann second last month among six Republicans seeking the party nomination for Place 3 on the Texas Supreme Court. The seat will be open because Justice Harriet O'Neill is not running again.

Lehrmann worked to persuade Republican voters that Green is inexperienced and the least likely to beat a Democrat in the fall. Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Tom Phillips and other prominent members of the legal community supported Lehrmann. Green insisted he is qualified as a licensed attorney who regularly teaches about the U.S. Constitution. He makes speeches on behalf of Wallbuilders, a group that promotes religion's role in the founding of the United States.

Lehrmann will face Democrat Jim Sharp in November.

Republicans currently hold all the high court seats and all statewide elected offices.

In the State Board of Education runoff, Republican educator Marsha Farney defeated conservative home-school advocate Brian Russell. They were competing for the GOP nomination to replace outgoing Republican Cynthia Dunbar. Dunbar and others in the state board's conservative faction endorsed Russell. Farney had some Republican endorsements of her own and calls herself a "commonsense conservative."

The education board's influential Christian conservative bloc was weakened in March when one of its prominent members lost his seat to a moderate Republican. Farney, considered more moderate than Russell, describes herself as an advocate for children in the public schools. She also has said she will "work to strengthen and preserve our state and national heritage as well as our traditional family values in our curriculum."

Farney will face Democrat Judy Jennings in the November general election.

A Christian conservative bloc of the education board has drawn much attention to the panel's debates about social studies and which historical figures to include in Texas' curriculum, which has national influence because Texas is one of the biggest clients for U.S. textbook publishers.

In a closely watched congressional race in central Texas, Republican Bill Flores defeated Rob Curnock on Tuesday to win the GOP nomination in District 17 to face Democratic Rep. Chet Edwards in the fall. That district, which includes former President George W. Bush's ranch in Crawford, leans conservative.

"Tonight we have taken an important step forward in returning limited government principles for our country and fixing the damage that Congress and this administration have created," Flores said in a written statement. "I am more energized than ever to run a vigorous, issue-based campaign that will defeat Chet Edwards in November."

In the 23rd Congressional District, stretching from San Antonio out into far West Texas, Republican Quico Canseco won his party's nomination and will face Democratic Rep. Ciro Rodriguez in the fall election.

Numerous primary races were settled in the March 2 primary. That's when Republican Gov. Rick Perry and Democrat Bill White each won his party's nomination for governor. Runoffs between the top two finishers are required in races where no one gets at least half the votes.

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