We have our first endorsement for the Travis County DA runoff:
Gary Cobb, the third-place finisher in last week's Democratic primary for Travis County district attorney, will announce his support of candidate Rosemary Lehmberg today in the April runoff election, saying she is most receptive to tackling racially tinged issues the office must deal with.
The endorsement comes after Cobb met separately this week with Lehmberg, the first assistant district attorney, and her runoff opponent, trial court prosecutor Mindy Montford.
The 45-minute meeting with Montford at her Lavaca Street campaign headquarters Sunday included an exchange about Cobb's future in the office.
"During that meeting, he asked me not once, not twice, but three times would I make him first assistant," Montford said. "I told him that by law, which he knew, I couldn't engage in any quid pro quo scenario."
Cobb, a prosecutor since 1990, said he was not trying to trade his endorsement for a job.
"Here is the context of it," Cobb said. "She indicated to me that I would be at the very top of her administration, to which I said, 'Does that mean ... that you would make me the first assistant?'
"We were both clear on our understanding of the law, and we were in no way trying to get around the law or violate the law."
Cobb said his endorsement, which potentially brings with it some of his hundreds of supporters, is based on how receptive Lehmberg was to the ideas he put forth during the campaign. Those include hiring more African American and Hispanic lawyers as assistant district attorneys, opening up the lines of communication between prosecutors and the community and minimizing the number of small drug cases pursued by police and prosecutors.
"She (Lehmberg) admits that there have been problems in the past," said Cobb, who is African American and works in the grand jury division. "She talks specifically about things that she would be doing and getting me involved."
For example, Cobb said, Lehmberg asked for his ideas on how to recruit more African American and Hispanic lawyers. Cobb and Lehmberg said no specific job offer was discussed.
As for Montford, Cobb said: "I didn't feel that Mindy was that specific on what kind of changes we would have in the office. And I was not personally comfortable in what she saw was my role."