2014 Democratic Primary: Dallas County Primer

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Since the Labor Day Picnic held by Dallas Democrats, campaign season has slowly gotten underway.  

As mentioned in previous articles, all countywide offices in the Dallas are held by Democrats.  As we prepare a list of contested races, this article is to discuss the countywide and other down ballots races in the Democratic Primary.  I will follow-up with later articles discussing other races affecting Dallas County and their candidates.

Below the jump, read up on who's running and learn about the most important race that wasn't….After the 2012 General Election, I wrote an article briefly discussing what had appeared to be the next big election for Dallas Democrats.  Long-time County Chair Darlene Ewing had been rumored to be considering stepping down, which would then allow Democratic Precinct Chairs in Dallas County choose her successor.  Or at least the County Chair that would run the local Democratic Party until after the 2014 Democratic Primary.

During the last Executive Committee meeting for the Dallas County Democratic Party, Darlene announced that she had decided to run again for a 5th term.  Some readers may recall that Darlene was first elected in 2005 after the previous County Chair was forced out.  Under Darlene's stewardship, Dallas Democrats have turned the county around and swept every countywide office, even during the 2010 General Elections that were disastrous for Democrats in the State Legislature and nationally.

It remains to be seen whether Darlene may face any type of challenger in the 2014 Primary.  In 2010, Sean Hubbard, who later ran for U.S. Senate in 2012, was unable to get enough signatures to be placed on the ballot.  In 2012, an individual named Lymon King had expressed interest in running but ultimately decided against it.  Darlene remains a popular individual throughout the County Party, and any serious challenger would be in for a very contentious fight.

Don't Let the Door….

ln 2010, a number of sitting Republican judges switched parties and ran as Democrats. One of these Republican judges was Susan Hawk. A few weeks ago Susan Hawk announced that she will challenge District Attorney Craig Watkins as a Republican in the 2014 General Election. Judge Hawk has since resigned from the bench to begin her campaign.

However, it remains to be seen whether Susan will make it through the Republican Primary. Dallas lawyer Tom Nowak had already announced his plans to run for DA as a Republican, and indicated that he will challenge Susan for the privilege of being defeated by Craig Watkins in November 2014.

Dallas Countywide and Other Down Ballot Races

The 2014 Democratic Primary in Dallas County is most likely going to be dominated by the countywide and other down ballot races.  The majority of judges in the county are elected during off-year elections, which means over 40 countywide offices will be up for re-election.  Unlike previous off-year elections, every one of these seats is currently held by a Democratic incumbent.

In 2010, there was something of a mad dash by many candidates attempting to secure their place in the Democratic Primary to challenge a judgeship still held by a Republican because no Democrat filed to run in 2006.  This also included half a dozen incumbent Republican judges who switched parties, and several Democratic incumbents being challenged for their newly won seats.  Examples of incumbents challenged included County Judge Jim Foster who unsuccessfully fought against Clay Jenkins and Larry Duncan, and Judge Lennox Bower who was ultimately defeated by challenger Julia Hayes.  These are the open seat elections due to the incumbent Democrat not seeking re-election.

District Judge, 291st Judicial District (Susan Hawk)

As we mentioned earlier, Susan Hawk has decided to go back to the Republican Party and run for District Attorney.  Her seat was up for re-election this year already, which makes this an open seat election.

District Clerk (Gary Fitzsimmons)

Shortly after the conclusion of the 2013 Municipal Runoff Elections, District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons announced that he was not going to seek re-election.  Gary has held the office since 2006, and easily defeated a Primary challenge in 2010 with over 70% of the vote.  Gary has been a long-time member of the Stonewall Community, extremely popular among Dallas Democrats and very easy-to-approach with a good sense of humor and sarcasm.

County Treasurer (Joe Wells)

Joe Wells was also first elected in the 2006 Democratic sweep and has proven a capable treasurer.  He has remained very popular, and was unchallenged in the 2010 Primary. Joe has been quietly hinting in recent years that he was considering to not run in 2014.  A few months ago, Joe formally announced that he would not seek re-election.

Criminal District Judge, Court No. 7 (Mike Snipes)

Judge Snipes was first elected in 2006.  In 2010, he beat off a primary challenge from Steve Baer by winning 54% of the vote.  Otherwise, Mike Snipes has kept a relatively low profile in Democratic politics, which is not uncommon for the majority of elected judges.

Dallas County Criminal Court, No. 11 (Elizabeth Frizzell)

Judge Elizabeth Frizzell is running for Mike Snipes' old seat.  Judge Frizzell was first elected in 2006.  In 2010, Judge Frizzell went unchallenged in the Democratic Primary.

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 5, Place 1 (Carlos Medrano/Sandra Ellis)

Carlos Medrano defeated incumbent Democrat Luis Sepulveda by 156 votes in the 2010 Democratic Primary, and was subsequently elected to the office in the General Election.  Luis Sepulveda claimed the election was rife with fraud, and immediately pursued legal action.  This action resulted into an investigation and subsequent trial that Carlos had asked two nieces (Veronica Medrano and Raquel Medrano) to change their voting address from their residence in Mesquite to Dallas so they could vote in his election.  On February 27, 2012, the jury found Carlos Medrano guilty of illegally soliciting the vote of his niece Veronica Medrano, but acquitted him of the same charge in regards to Raquel Medrano.  Full articles on the trial can be found here and here.

Sandra Ellis was appointed by the Dallas County Commissioner's Court to replace Carlos until a new election could be held in 2014.  Sandra had won election for Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3, Place 2 in 2010.  However, she subsequently lost the seat due to redistricting.  According to County Judge Clay Jenkins, appointing Luis Sepulveda to his old position rather than Sandra Ellis would have cost taxpayers over $100,000 a year.  This was because since Sandra had won re-election, Dallas County was obligated to pay her salary until 2014.  Luis Sepulveda protested this decision, and was forcibly removed from the County Commission meeting on April 17, 2012.

List of Countywide and Down Ballot Offices for Re-Election

The following is a list in ballot order of the countywide and other down ballot offices that will be up for re-election in 2014.  I have removed statewide, legislative, and multi-county offices from the list so it just focuses of local Dallas races.

Judge, 44th Judicial District
Judge, 68th Judicial District
Judge, 101st Judicial District
Judge, 116th Judicial District
Judge, 160th Judicial District
Judge, 191st Judicial District
Judge, 192nd Judicial District
Judge, 193rd Judicial District
Judge, 194th Judicial District
Judge, 195th Judicial District
Judge, 203rd Judicial District
Judge, 204th Judicial District
Judge, 254th Judicial District
Judge, 255th Judicial District
Judge, 256th Judicial District
Judge, 265th Judicial District
Judge, 282nd Judicial District
Judge, 283rd Judicial District
Judge, 291st Judicial District
Judge, 292nd Judicial District
Judge, 298th Judicial District
Judge, 363rd Judicial District
Criminal Distrist Judge, Court No. 1
Criminal District Judge, Court No. 5
Criminal District Judge, Court No. 6
Criminal Distrist Judge, Court No. 7
Family Dist Judge, 301st Judicial District
Family Dist Judge, 302nd Judicial District
Family Dist Judge, 303rd Judicial District
Family Dist Judge, 304th Judicial District
Family Dist Judge, 305th Judicial District
Family Dist Judge, 330th Judicial District
Criminal District Attorney
County Judge
Judge, County Court at Law No. 1
Judge, County Court at Law No. 2
Judge, County Court at Law No. 3
Judge, County Court at Law No. 4
Judge, County Court at Law No. 5
Judge, County Criminal Court No. 1
Judge, County Criminal Court No. 2
Judge, County Criminal Court No. 3
Judge, County Criminal Court No. 4
Judge, County Criminal Court No. 5
Judge, County Criminal Court No. 6
Judge, County Criminal Court No. 7
Judge, County Criminal Court No. 8
Judge, County Criminal Court No. 9
Judge, County Criminal Court No. 10
Judge, County Criminal Court No. 11
Judge, County Criminal Court of Appeals, No 1
Judge, County Criminal Court of Appeals, No 2
Judge, County Probate Court No. 1
Judge, County Probate Court No. 2
Judge, County Probate Court No. 3
District Clerk
County Clerk
County Treasurer
County Commissioner, Pct No. 2
County Commissioner, Pct No. 4
Justice of the Peace, Pct No. 1, Pl 1
Justice of the Peace, Pct No. 1, Pl 2 ***
Justice of the Peace, Pct No. 2, Pl 2 ***
Justice of the Peace, Pct No. 3, Pl 1 ***
Justice of the Peace, Pct No. 3, Pl 2 ***
Justice of the Peace, Pct No. 3, Pl 3 ***
Justice of the Peace, Pct No. 4, Pl 1
Justice of the Peace, Pct No. 4, Pl 2
Justice of the Peace, Pct No. 5, Pl 1
Justice of the Peace, Pct No. 5, Pl 2
Constable, Precinct No. 1
Constable, Precinct No. 2 ***
Constable, Precinct No. 3 ***
Constable, Precinct No. 4
Constable, Precinct No. 5
County Chair

*** Indicates that this office is current held by a Republican.

James Van Sickle

Darwood Technology

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About Author

I have been working in the Information Technology field since 1995, and have worked for dotcom startups, Fortune 500 companies, and non-profit institutions. I specialize in database technology, application development, system integration, and their underlying processes to ensure integrity of stored data and hosting systems. I first became politically active in 2008, and was surprised by the dearth of experienced IT professionals that work with political candidates and campaigns on a professional or volunteer basis.

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