The Austin Chronicle

Travis Bench Is Solid Blue

By Jordan Smith, November 7, 2008, News

As far as the Travis Co. bench is concerned, it was all blue on election night. Incumbent judges reclaimed each judicial post (none was actually facing challengers), and with the election victory of Magistrate Judge Jim Coronado, who won handily in the race for the seat on the new 427th District Court with 62% of the vote – ousting Gov. Rick Perry appointee Melissa Goodwin – the Travis Co. bench is, in fact, solid blue. "The entire courthouse is Democratic," said Coronado, stopping by the Driskill Hotel press room. "I'm looking forward to taking on the job – it's a difficult job, but I'm looking forward to it."

On the 3rd Court of Appeals, which serves 24 counties in Central and West Texas, Democrats picked up another seat with the election of Woodie Jones, who defeated incumbent Chief Justice Ken Law with 52% of the vote, bringing the court back to an even three-three Democrat-Republican split.

While the 3rd Court is now purple, the appellate courts with statewide jurisdiction remain solidly red. GOP incumbents held on to every seat in play on both the Texas Supreme Court (the state's highest civil court) and the Court of Criminal Appeals (the highest court for criminal cases). Still, it wasn't the same election-night blowout that Republican candidates for those benches have enjoyed in recent years. Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson held on to his post with 53% of the vote, but Place 7 Judge Dale Wainwright won in a far tighter race – with 51% of the vote over Dem challenger Sam Houston. Things were also much closer for Place 8 incumbent Phil Johnson, who beat veteran 13th Court of Appeals Judge Linda Yañez with 52% of the vote. While the night didn't go as Houston would have liked, the Dem challenger said he was pleased with the race he ran – and encouraged by the changes he sees in statewide politics. "You know when it's over, but we were in the hunt," he said. "And I'm very happy that we were in the hunt. It's very important that we continue to have both parties represented in these statewide offices."

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