Huge red wave? Ten Democratic incumbent judges lost their primary elections in Harris County, Texas

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HOUSTON, TX – In the last two years the Harris County area has seen a surge in violence which is due, in some people’s opinions, to the lack of judges holding alleged criminals responsible for their actions.

The people with those opinions stepped up to the plate this election season and voted out ten Democrat incumbent judges in the county.

Four of the judges that will lose their seats, Chuck Silverman, Abigail Anastasio, Amy Martin, and Greg Glass were all defeated in the primary.

Glass in particular may have lost the primary election after he lowered the bond of an alleged cop killer.

In September of 2021, Officers with the Houston Police Department executed a search warrant of a suspected drug residence when Deon Ledet shot Senior Police Officer Bill Jeffrey and Sergeant Michael Vance. Officer Bill Jeffrey was killed, and Sergeant Michael Vance was critically wounded, but thankfully survived.

Shortly after the shooting, Ledet’s previous criminal history and ability to bond out in front of Glass came under the spotlight as the police department and the community grieved the loss of Officer Jeffrey.

Ledet, having been arrested 18 times since 2008, was known for burglaries, evading arrest, aggravated assaults with a deadly weapon, and two drug cases.

When Ledet went in front of Glass for the two drug cases, prosecutors argued that he should be held behind bars because he was a two-time convicted felon and classified as a habitual offender.

Despite the risks to the community, Glass not only assigned Ledet a bond, but he lowered it so he could bond out of jail.

He was ordered to wear an electronic monitoring device but he never showed up to get one.

Whether this event or the increase in crime in the Houston area is the reason why these Democratic judges lost their seats is unknown. However, Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University thinks it is. He said:

“This kind of, in some ways, taints all of the sitting judges, so by being an incumbent judge, there is a belief among a subset of Democratic primary voters that that person is lax on crime.

“Most of these challengers are current or former prosecutors. They can signal, ‘I am going to be tougher on crime,’ while being fair in the sense of they are still Democrats. And, instead of giving low bond to everybody, giving low bond to non-violent offenders but rationing up bonds for the violent offenders.”

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Tristan Longino, Barbara Stalder, Scot Dollinger, Franklin Bynum, and David Singer are also Democratic judges who lost their seats. Jones believes there are several reasons why the area saw such a shake-up, he said:

“In a low information race, when you have a woman running against a man in the Democratic primary, odds are the woman is going to win because there are significantly more women who participate in the Harris County Democratic primary.

When they get to a race and they don’t know anything about the candidates, they tend to vote based off gender. It’s an educated and relatively informed group [voters], but really no one can be informed about all of the judges we have on our Harris County ballot.”

While it seems clear that the residents of Harris County are unhappy with the current judges, eight current Democratic judges were able to retain their seats.

Jones believes that this shake-up does not necessarily mean good news for Republicans that are running for office as a judge. He said:

“It’s possible that a few of the more lenient Democratic judges do get some blowback via campaign by Republicans reaching out to Democrats, but by in large, when people get to this part of the ballot unless someone has done something pretty egregious to rise to that level of public attention, in November they are either going to check the D or the R. They aren’t going to check the name.”

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Midterm elections and police: Why we shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security (and why it could get ugly)

I hesitated writing this post. Discussing politics means you risk alienating people, including allies – and that’s not my intention. This is not a political blog and I’m not here to do the bidding for any political party.

I want what’s best for the health of the country – which for me, means living in a place where law & order is considered sacred.

#Countrybeforeparty. Always.

Whether we like it or not, politics very much affects policing and public safety, so it needs to be part of the conversation.

So here goes. {gulp}

Crime is a uniting issue for voters, and one that will likely help propel Republicans into victory this coming mid-term election. Security is a basic human need, and our government has failed in their responsibility to us.

A Republican win doesn’t mean our problems will disappear, however.

The Elections Are Not a Done Deal

Let’s start with the obvious: polls are not the same as election results. We’ve seen election day surprises in recent years, so we shouldn’t count on something that hasn’t yet transpired.

November is a long time away, and just about anything can happen between now and then. The American public is fickle; and the people have short memories.

It Will Take Time to Fix the Damage That’s Been Done to Policing

Cops have been hit hard these past few years and a lot of damage has been done. It’s not just the violence targeted towards police officers and calls to defund that have stifled officer morale and caused staffing crises at police departments across the country.

Rogue prosecutors criminally charge them for making good-faith mistakes (as tragic as those mistakes may be, they don’t meet the legal definition of criminal intent), as we recently witnessed with Kim Potter. Or they indict cops for past acts that had already been cleared by authorities, as is happening in Austin, Texas.

Jurisdictions, like those in New York state, have entire prosecutorial units focused exclusively on prosecuting cops. If only they could prosecute violent offenders with as much fervor!

These policies, agencies, and ideologies won’t just evaporate because of an election. Making change takes time and steadfast focus, as well as a genuine desire to protect the American people. Problem is, true leaders and public servants are in short supply.

Republicans May Be Preferable on Law & Order Policies, but They’ve Still Come Up Short

Some politicians excel in their support for police officers. At the state level, Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida Republicans, for example, created law & order legislation to address the upswing in attacks and ambushes on police officers.

The Combatting Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act makes striking a police officer during a violent or disorderly assembly punishable with a mandatory six-month jail sentence.

The Protect and Serve Act (S.774 / H.R. 3079), which would impose federal penalties on those who deliberately target police officers, thus far has 67 co-sponsors in the House, the majority of whom are Republicans.

In my experience, these acts of leadership have been the exception, not the general rule.

In my own state this past January, Republican members of Congress introduced a Pro-Cop Wisconsin Campaign, which would have offered monetary incentives to aid in police recruitment.

While I completely agree that cops deserve to be compensated well for putting their lives on the line, this legislation does little to address the reasons behind the recruitment crisis and lowered officer morale. Moreover, given that the war on cops has been an issue since at least 2015, why the sudden interest in supporting cops seven years later?

Lobbying Attempts Often Fall on Deaf Ears

For the past year I’ve been lobbying state Republicans, urging them to craft legislation similar to Florida’s law and order act. My requests have either been met with silence or a Sorry, not interested.

I wonder how supporting police officers and by extension the public they serve, is not a priority for any elected official, especially those who claim to be pro-law and order.

Even if pro-police legislation didn’t have a chance of passing in this current environment, they could have still laid the groundwork.

While I think we have a better chance of fixing the damage done to policing & public safety with Republican wins this November, I also think it’s a mistake to get lulled into a false sense of security.
Though Republicans may, generally speaking, be stronger on law and order-type issues, I trust few politicians to actually do what’s in our best interest. Regardless of who wins, we have a lot of work ahead.

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