The Austin Chronicle makes its runoff recommendations.
Railroad Commissioner: Dale Henry
We endorsed Dale Henry in the initial primary voting, and we're happy to endorse him again, after he finished second to advance to a run-off against Mark Thompson. Either man would bring a breath of fresh air to this commission, whose current and past members are too often beholden to the oil-and-gas industry they're supposed to regulate. Both have vowed to place public safety and the environment above industry needs. Henry is our preferred candidate because of his extensive oil-and-gas experience and his familiarity with how the commission operates. That's the type of knowledge he'll need if he expects to conquer long odds and oust the incumbent Republican chairman, Michael Williams, in November.
Travis Co. District Attorney: Rosemary Lehmberg
Four assistant district attorneys filed to succeed retiring Ronnie Earle in one of the most successful and high-profile prosecutor's offices in Texas. The two left standing after the March 4 primary are Earle's experienced longtime first assistant D.A., Rosemary Lehmberg, and the relatively junior Mindy Montford, who brings the youth and enthusiasm of the next generation of legal professionals, as well as much support from traditional Democratic sources. On balance, we agree with Earle that Lehmberg is the overall most qualified person to carry on his considerable legacy. She has worked in all the units of the office and has been both a practicing prosecutor and (as first assistant) a chief administrator, with the responsibility and long experience in balancing the varying demands on the office: from prosecution to budgets to managing personnel and, beyond that, to the complicated political considerations arising from the Travis Co. D.A.'s jurisdiction over state corruption investigations and prosecutions. We are impressed by Lehmberg's experience in building the office, in developing and expanding innovative and progressive programs, and in her broad sense of the office's wide-ranging responsibilities, as well as the nuances of addressing high-profile political cases. (We do believe the office needs to be more technologically proactive in working with the defense bar, a legal and political mandate as much as a technical one.) The campaign has noticeably strengthened Lehmberg's public profile and her comprehension that the D.A.'s job is not just administrative, not just prosecutorial, but a communitywide engagement. We believe she will be a better public official because of it.
- U.S. representative, District 22, Pete Olson -- A former aide to U.S. Sens. Phil Gramm and John Cornyn, Olson knows how Congress works. A naval officer, Olson served as an aviator and Navy liaison officer to the Senate. He promises that if elected he will make defense and veterans' care his priorities.
- State representative, District 144, Fred Roberts -- The owner of an insurance agency and industrial inspection company, Roberts says he wants to concentrate on the issues that mean most to Texans, including taxes, education and insurance rates. A trustee of the Pasadena Independent School District, he is active in his church and community.
- Judge, 174th Criminal District Court, Kevin Keating -- A career prosecutor, Keating has a wealth of experience. He has appealed capital murder cases for the state to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is an expert on forensic mental health issues that increasingly affect the course of justice.
- Harris County district attorney, Pat Lykos -- A former state district judge and Houston police officer, Lykos is well-qualified to be the county's chief prosecutor. She promises to seek justice, not convictions regardless of guilt or innocence. An outsider, Lykos is better prepared than her opponent to restore ethics and judgment to the district attorney's office.
- Justice of the peace, Precinct 8, Place 1, Richard Risinger -- An experienced municipal attorney and judge, Risinger is ideally suited to serve as a justice of the peace. A life-long resident of Pasadena, Risinger holds a degree from the University of Houston Law Center.
- Railroad commissioner, Dale Henry -- A petroleum engineer, Henry has four decades of experience in the oil and gas industry -- the primary object of the Railroad Commission's interest. Henry also has government experience as Lampasas city manager and Mills County commissioner.
- Judge, 80th Civil District Court, Larry Weiman -- Weiman has 16 years' experience as a civil trial lawyer. A mediator, he can see both sides of the case and rule fairly. Weiman says he wishes to bring balance to Harris County's district courts, which sometimes have failed to correct miscarriages of justice.
- Justice of the peace, Precinct 8, Place 1 -- A lawyer in solo practice, Jeff Heintschel has broad experience in criminal, civil and family law.