... And So Does Yelenosky

Yet another Keel fails to break the GOP's losing streak at the courthouse

Stephen Yelenosky may have been a little-known, down-ballot contender in an underdog fight, but he not only beat the incumbent, 345th District Judge Patrick Keel, he trounced him with 56% of the vote. It helped that Yelenosky was running against a Republican appointee of Gov. Rick Perry. "I thought the race could go either way," said a jubilant Yelenosky, who emerged the obvious victor early Tuesday night. "But I knew I wouldn't be surprised if I won because of the number of Democratic voters and newly registered Democrats in Travis Co."

With the exception of District Judge Julie Kocurek, a Republican appointed by Gov. George Bush (and re-elected Tuesday without opposition), GOP judicial appointments at the Travis Co. Courthouse don't typically last past their first election fight. But Keel had a fair amount of bipartisan support from lawyers and a prominent last name working in his favor; he is the younger brother of Austin state Rep. Terry Keel, who won an easy, unopposed re-election bid. County Democratic leaders got behind Yelenosky, who ran a strong campaign with enough money to buy TV time to paint his opponent as a friend to big corporations. "He had some Democratic support among lawyers," said Yelenosky, "but I don't think that bipartisan support carried throughout the legal community."

Perry appointed Keel in late 2002 to fill the post vacated by Democrat Scott McCown who, like Yelenosky, leans toward championing the little guy. Yelenosky, who takes office in January, is the legal director of Advocacy Inc., a nonprofit advocating for the disabled. In the only other contested races for the Travis Co. bench, incumbent Dem Margaret Cooper easily bested perennial GOP candidate Demetri Anastasiadis, and Democrat Nancy Hohengarten prevailed over Angelita Mendoza-Waterhouse for County Court-at-Law No. 5.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Election 2004, Stephen Yelenosky, Patrick Keel, Julie Kocurek, George Bush, Terry Keel, Rick Perry, Margaret Cooper, Demetri Anastasiadis, Nancy Hohengarten, Angelita Mendoza-Waterhouse

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