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What do you do with a problem like Rick Green?

If former State Rep. Rick Green wins his primary runoff against Fort Worth family court judge Debra Lehrmann for the Supreme Court Place 3 nomination, he will join Railroad Commission nominee David Porter as a second underqualified Republican candidate on the statewide ballot. It’s clear that the GOP establishment gets this, and they are working to avoid it.

[Thursday,] five former state Supreme Court justices — Tom Phillips, Craig Enoch, Deborah Hankinson, Barbara Culver, and Alberto Gonzales — [threw] their weight behind Lehrmann in her bid for the nomination.

“It’s not unprecedented, but it is rare” for a coalition of former justices to publicly push a candidate in a closely contested race, says veteran judicial campaign consultant Todd Olsen. (Olsen worked for Houston Court of Appeals Justice Jeff Brown, who lost to Green and Lehrmann in the primary.)

It last happened in 2004, when all of the then-living former justices endorsed San Antonio Court of Appeals Justice Paul Green’s successful primary challenge against sitting GOP Justice Steven Wayne Smith. Just two years earlier, Smith had ousted incumbent Xavier Rodriguez, who Gov. Rick Perry had just appointed to the bench, a win some attributed to the perils of having a Hispanic name in a Republican primary. (See Victor Carillo, David Porter, and “The Elefante in the Room”). From any perspective, however, it was an upset victory: The little-known Smith spent only $9,500 in his race, while Rodriguez doled out more than $550,000.

In case you’re wondering, the Democratic nominee for Place 3 is Houston’s Jim Sharp, who was elected to the First Court of Appeals in 2008. You can see why those guys might be concerned about qualifications.

Powerbrokers have lined up against him, but Green, who did not respond to a request for comment, may still have reason to smile. His campaign has more 13,000 Facebook fans — a base that’s nothing to sniff at, especially in an obscure runoff race that doesn’t have a noisy gubernatorial contest drawing voters to the polls — and the support of rightwing celebrities like Chuck Norris, motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, and the stars of TLC’s “18 Kids and Counting,” Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar.

I don’t think I can really add anything to that. I mean hey, why should the Court of Criminal Appeals have all the fun?

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  1. Mainstream says:

    I support Lehrmann. But at the senate district conventions of the Harris County GOP yesterday, where maybe 2000 hard core activists were present, Rick Green was present with yard signs, lapel stickers, t-shirts, literature, and spoke to each caucus noting that Wallace Jefferson and the Chief Justice of the Criminal Court of Appeals also had not had judicial experience before their appointments, noting his legislative experience and the different roles of the two branches of government, and his endorsements, including Justice Scott Brister. No one in the room had any clue that he once punched out his opponent at a polling place, or any of the ethical scandals from his past. Lehrmann was not present, sent no representative to speak on her behalf, and had not organized for the event. Her brochures were passed out in about half the caucuses but not in any organized or thorough way. She needs to run a better campaign if she is to have any hope of winning. Endorsements from judges or bar association leaders do not translate to votes in the low turnout primary run-offs.

  2. […] Criminal District Court, everyone who led in early voting won. In the one statewide contest, the establishment-backed Debra Lehrmann, a family court judge from Fort Worth, held off social conservative favorite Rick […]