Also known as Ron Reynolds versus the world.
“This is the biggest challenge of my political career,” Reynolds said. “It will be an uphill climb, but I’m confident.”
The March 1 primary includes lawyer Angelique Bartholomew, prosecutor Christopher Henderson and Steve Brown, former chairman of the Fort Bend County Democrats. House District 27 covers most of Missouri City and parts of Houston and Sugar Land.
Despite the legal mess, Reynolds said he has held onto the support of many local Democratic officials, including Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and U.S. Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green.
“No one has told me to resign,” Reynolds said. “It has been the opposite. They tell me, ‘You have got to keep fighting.’ They see (the conviction) for what it really is. They know the history of Montgomery County, and they know the charge.”
Prosecutors and media, he said, “made it appear that I was convicted of a heinous felony. It was a misdemeanor.”
Reynolds, 42, is well-known and well-liked within the district, said Don Bankston, chairman of the Fort Bend County Democrats. Still, the lawmaker is taking the challengers seriously.
“Reynolds is all over the place,” Bankston said. “His signs are everywhere, and he attends every event.”
Whether Reynolds’ criminal case matters to voters remains to be seen. While campaigning door-to-door, Brown said he has heard few people bring it up.
“People hear bits and pieces of it, but I don’t think they know details,” said Brown, who entered the race in part because he considers Reynolds’ legal problems a distraction. “I’m sympathetic. But we have to separate sympathy from being able to move forward as a district.”
Bartholomew, a first-time candidate who has raised money for other Democrats, said she also was concerned about how well Reynolds can serve the district with legal and professional problems swirling about him.
“Distractions like that are difficult for anyone to manage,” she said.
Bartholomew has not mentioned Reynolds in her campaign. Instead she has focused on fixing the school finance system and reducing class sizes, often using the hashtag #allschoolsmatter on Twitter.
“I’m focused on what is important to the district and families like mine,” said Bartholomew, who has five children, ages 7 to 18.
Henderson, meanwhile, has made an issue of the incumbent’s legal woes. On his campaign site, he wrote that barratry is the legal profession’s version of fraud because attorneys are “duping” clients into hiring them.
Anyone committing fraud should not be allowed to hold public office, wrote Henderson, an assistant district attorney in Galveston County. “Elected officials are put in place to create the law. They must also follow the laws they create.”
I will have interviews with Brown and Bartholomew (who was recently endorsed by Annie’s List) next week. I inquired with Rep. Reynolds to do an interview with him as well, but he declined.
I’ll say again, I like Rep. Reynolds and I respect his service in the Lege, but I believe it’s time for a change in HD27. Of course, I don’t live there and I don’t vote there, so it’s not up to me. Objectively, Rep. Reynolds ought to be in political trouble, but it doesn’t always work that way. His legal woes have certainly been news, but they’ve hardly drawn the kind of coverage that Rick Perry or Ken Paxton have for their cases. It’s likely that a fair number of voters know little about his barratry conviction. That’s just the way things are. Those who do know of his travails may well agree with him that he’s being railroaded, or they may decide that this issue doesn’t affect his ability to serve in the Legislature, or that his good service outweighs this problem, or that he’s still the better choice than his opponents. People will make their own decisions for their own reasons, and it doesn’t matter what you or I think. What I do think is that everyone would be better off if Rep. Reynolds dropped out to focus on taking care of his personal business. I think he’s still a favorite to win, though he’ll probably have to survive a runoff to do that. We’ll see what the voters think.