As you have undoubtedly heard by now, Texas Gov. Rick Perry appointed Devon Anderson to succeed her deceased husband Mike as the Harris County District Attorney. Judge Anderson is certainly qualified for the job, having been a prosecutor, a judge, and a criminal defense attorney during her career.
The Houston Chronicle’s headline writer has been having a rough time of it lately. This is the headline and subhead from Brian Rogers’ article on the appointment:
Perry taps Anderson to serve out late husband’s term as DA
Anderson will complete term of her husband
That headline is incorrect. Devon Anderson may or may not serve out or complete the term of her husband – that decision will be up to the voters of Harris County. First she will have to survive a primary and if the way her husband ran his race is any indication, it will be brutal. I don’t think that whomever runs against her will make the same mistake that Judge Pat Lykos made and not respond to attacks until it is too late. Oppo research guys are already sending stuff out about Mrs. Anderson. If she makes it out of the primary, she will have to win in November against an energized Democratic Party.
That November election is one of the reasons for her appointment. By all accounts, she is a good campaigner and the hope is that she, along with Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, will be able to get Republicans to the polls and offset the energy that Sen. Wendy Davis will bring to the Democrats. On the surface, it is a good theory. But like any political theory, it has flaws. I can think of two of them right off the bat.
First, is she pro-life? Like it or not, the pro-life faction of the Republican coalition is critical to the success of Republican candidates. Jared Woodfill, Harris County Republican Party Chair, sent me a text message assuring me that she is pro-life. If that is true, then she will not take the path of her husband and refuse to answer questions about the judicial bypass hearings that were held in her court. And she will need to explain how she will approach cases like the Douglas Karpen case differently than her husband did. If she can’t or won’t answer these questions, the pro-life faction will not support her and that will hurt the entire ticket. Unlike the caricature of pro-life voters that persists in the media, this group is not comprised of uneducated trailer park trash and they won’t be fooled. She must be completely transparent and honest with this group.
Second, I admit that I had a few good laughs yesterday as some supporters of Judge Belinda Hill immediately changed their tone and told us that Mrs. Anderson was the most qualified person for the job. Prior to the appointment, they were rabid supporters of Judge Hill. Mrs. Anderson’s appointment will bring out the usual accusations that the Republican Party discriminates against blacks. In fact, the very first comment on the pro-Anderson website was this:
I suppose the party line on the Republicans’ shameful passing over of Belinda Hill—the most qualified candidate, but also a black female in a party run by old white men—is that “she doesn’t want the job.” Here’s to hoping that she dispels that falsehood, even if she waits until after her ouster.
“I understand that Judge Anderson and Judge Hill discussed this extensively,” said Chip Lewis, an attorney who supported Mike Anderson in his run for office last year.
“They both believed that this was in the best interest for Harris County and their families to move forward with this arrangement,” he said.
Well, we’ll see about that. I filed a Public Information Act Request with the Governor’s office this morning for copies of the applications that were submitted seeking the appointment.
And don’t you find it interesting that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office has yet to issue a press release on the appointment? I do.