By Brian Bearden, TSB Contributor
The mud has started to fly in the Republican Party runoffs in Collin County.
If you think the statewide David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz race for the vacant U.S. Senate seat is getting nasty, watch out for even more dirt flying in the local runoffs.
Judicial candidate Ben Smith said, “It is the type of conduct that illustrates to me why so many people loathe politics and politicians. It makes good, honest people not want to seek office. And that is a real shame.”
The judicial races started gaining attention in the spring for their tone.
Angela Tucker supporters said they spent a lot of time replacing campaign signs, which mysteriously would disappear. Despite attacks on her personal life, she cleaned up with a win and left a big family name in county politics high and dry.
Prosper tea party member Ann Lieber spends a lot of time vetting candidates and attending events. This week she was surprised to find a group has popped up calling itself the Collin County Conservative Coalition (CCCC).
“I was told by a poll worker representing this group that she was a ‘paid for’ campaign worker and knew nothing about the president of the organization or the organization itself,” Lieber said. “It’s just strange that this group pops up in Collin County endorsing candidates and when you place a huge emphasis on vetting the way I do and want to know who and what groups are endorsing which candidates and why. It’s rather shocking to be told by the poll greeter that they are ‘hired’ campaign workers and know nothing about the candidates, campaigns, election, etc—- Reminds me of ACORN in a way.”
Dirt is flying on social media and email, too.
The judicial race for County Court No. 2 pits Frisco’s Sharon Ramage and Prosper’s Barnett Walker, and Walker supporters say they are outraged.
Richard Pedretti said on the Walker campaign’s Facebook wall: “Sharon Ramage ran slam-ads against Barnett Walker using Barnett’s face photoshopped on to an unbecoming image. Sharon Ramage ran radio ads that unjustly slammed her opponent. Barnett Walker has much more relevant and recent experience than his opponent, so why would she stoop to such tactics? Because she is underqualified and (rightly so) does not feel she can win.”
Pamela J. Lakatos said on Walker’s campaign Facebook page: “This race is nasty, and we really need to think twice about putting someone on the bench who would inject false information and use ugly campaign tactics to sit on a Judicial Bench. Barnett is one of the finest men I have ever known. All of us who have dealt with him professionally and personally know that we can all rely on him to be one of the best Judges on the bench. I have fought him when he was a prosecutor and had the pleasure of trying cases with him on the defense side. He has never been anything but honest, ethical and fair.”
Lieber said, “The Prosper tea party does not approve of negative and misleading ads by Sharon Ramage which show photo-shopped images of Barnett Walker. This does not show judicial temperament and character by Mrs. Ramage.”
Ramage has plenty of fans, but still ran into some unexpected trouble on the campaign trail this week.
Lorie Medina saidonFacebook: “The hardest workin’ woman in politics! Sharon Ramage was attacked by a dog on Monday evening, and she’s still working the polls! Now that’s tough!”
Medina captured the moment by posting a photo on the Ramage campaign Facebook page.
Ramage saidon her Facebook page and website: “Since many of you have asked, I was bitten unexpectedly by a dog last night (photo by Lorie Medina) spent the evening in the ER. I am following doctor’s orders and keeping my leg elevated and will have plastic surgery eventually. I am sorry I can’t be with my volunteers at the polls this week, but I am thankful for the friends who have jumped in to help. I am continuing to campaign and talk with voters today! Thanks to all of you for prayers and support.”
Ramage said on her website: “Political campaigns bring out the best and worst in people because campaigning is both stressful and consuming. Politics becomes personal and those close to campaigns often get caught up in the competition. Unfortunately, judicial campaigns bring out shameful traits that are anything but judicial.”
Ramage said, “I said in an earlier post that the best judges do not get entangled in the agendas or emotions of courtroom participants. Judicial candidates should not get entangled in the agendas or emotions of their supporters or detractors either because the courtroom is a sacred place that holds power over citizens. As a judicial candidate, I must respect the office I am seeking because it is more important than me. Political gamesmanship is beneath the dignity of those who seek that office.
Ramage said, “Good judges endure all things and so should judicial candidates. Just as the courtroom is a stressful place and judges must remain calm in the midst of chaos, the campaign trail deserves candidates who do the same.”
The Terri Green – Ben Smith race for the Collin County 380th District Court is far from a safe zone. Ann Harris said on Green’s campaign Facebook page: “I love Terri’s quote: “The judge’s bench is not the place to build a career; it is a place to serve the community.”
Green says on her website: “The differences between me and my opponent could not be starker, and voters in the Republican runoff will decide the direction our Collin County judicial system takes in the years to come. Do we want our new Judge to be an experienced 23-year attorney who is well versed in all three types of cases that are heard in this courtroom? Or do we want our new Judge to be a young, eight-year attorney with experience in only 10 percent of the types of cases heard in this court? These are the types of critical questions voters must ask themselves.
Smith counters: “I remember the first time I met my opponent on the campaign trail. She said to me, ‘You’re so young – you’ll have plenty of chances. It’s my turn.’ That statement speaks volumes about the differences between us. Unlike her, I believe that judges should be elected based on qualifications, not political dues. Like I have stated before, I have tried to run an honest campaign that focuses on my qualifications. However, my opponent’s repeated, purposeful misrepresentations compel me to respond with the truth.”
Smith said, “Her direct mail piece, which I received on July 20, claims that I am an ‘inexperienced politician.’ … I have significantly more relevant experience than my opponent and a summary review of both of our professional credentials will demonstrate that I am more qualified to hold the position of District Court Judge. Furthermore, I have never run for or held public office before or held any political position. Sadly, this is just a politically motivated, dishonest claim to sway voters at the waning moments of the campaign.”
Smith said he finds the charges by Green ironic, “considering it is she who touts her involvement in political clubs and the establishment as one of her qualifications for being a District Judge. The vast majority of her endorsements are from ‘political friends,’ many of whom are only vaguely familiar with what a district court judge actually does – and what qualifications truly matter for the position.
Smith said, “The organizations that actually went through a vetting process – where they interviewed and investigated each candidate, giving each an opportunity to be heard and making decisions based on qualifications instead of friendship or favors – endorsed me. Additionally, significantly more people that work daily in Collin County District Courts and know firsthand the qualities and experience a District Judge should possess are supporting me.”
Smith takes on a mailing by Green. “In her mailer, my opponent shows herself in photographs with Laura Bush, Sam Johnson and Ralph Hall, Ted Cruz, and Greg Abbott, falsely implying that she is endorsed by them, and omits any disclaimer that would state otherwise. To date, my campaign has verified with the offices of two of the individuals depicted that she used their likeness without their permission and that they are not endorsing her.
“My opponent continues to state the incorrect number of years I (and she) have been practicing law,” Smith said. “She also continues to state that I have no experience in family or civil law, which is not true. I have handled both family and civil cases.”
Smith said, “Outrageous, false, and scurrilous would be appropriate in describing her statements, but in a word, they are lies. These accusations are grossly untrue and not only unbecoming of a judicial candidate, but of any person with decency and integrity.”
In the final weeks, the District 67 runoff race for state representative has seen the dirt kick up on the campaign trail.
Jeff Leach charges on his website: “Jon Cole Again Backed by Liberal Special Interests.”
Leach said, “In 2008, in his unsuccessful attempt to unseat conservative Rep. Jerry Madden, Jon Cole was largely backed by liberal democrats and special interests pushing for legalized gambling in Texas. Despite Jon Cole’s commitment to voters in Collin County to not accept any such future backing, Jon Cole has once again accepted large sums of money from such special interests. Specifically, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Texas Ethics Commission on July 23, 2012, Jon Cole has accepted a large sum of money from a south Texas donor with clear ties to liberal politics and the gambling lobby.”
Cole counters on his website: “Voters deserve better than last minute attempts by the Jeff Leach’s desperate campaign to slander me and our campaign for conservative change. We have received several phone reports of Leach supporters harassing voters at the polls. If you have been a victim of such harassment, please contact our campaign.”
Cole said: “Mr. Leach accused our campaign of taking money from the liberal gambling interests – when the fact is that that Leach has taken over $10,000 in campaign contributions from lobbyists that have represented racetracks and casinos. One thing is for sure, voters are fed up with sending hypocrites to Austin. The simple fact is that Jeff Leach has taken significantly more money from special interests than any candidate in this race.”
A website named www.collincountyfactcheck.com says: “Jon Cole is not bankrolled by liberal Democrats. Jon Cole has not taken one penny from liberal interests or Democrats. Quite the contrary, Jeff Leach has taken tens of thousands of dollars of special interest money from Austin, from groups that support Obamacare and amnesty, and oppose enforcing our current immigration laws in Texas.”
TSB reminds voters to make up your own minds. Early voting ends Friday. Election day will be Tuesday, July 31.
A LOOK BACK:
How voting went countywide on May 29th in the Republican Primary for candidates in the July 31st runoff:
Ted Cruz 35.45 percent
David Dewhurst 30.65
COUNTY COURT AT-LAW NO. 2
Barnett Walker 43.44
Sharon Ramage 35.25
380th Judicial District
Ben Smith 35.86
Terri Green 28.55
5TH COURT OF APPEALS
Justice, Place 2
David Evans 33.34
Bill Whitehill 24.59
Jon Cole 32.29
Jeff Leach 30.22
STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION
Member, District 12
Gail Spurlock 31.07
Tincy Miller 26.97
COUNTY COURT AT-LAW NO. 2
380TH DISTRICT COURT
STATE REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICT 67