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Travis Republican Switches Parties

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 09:30 AM CDT

(bumped. - promoted by Karl-Thomas Musselman)

The last countywide elected Republican in Travis County is switching parties faced with otherwise certain defeat in 2008. Judge Julie Kocurek, appointed by then Gov. Bush in 1999 to the newly created 399th District Court defeated a Democratic opponent by only 4 points before going unchallenged in 2004. That same year, incumbent Republican Patrick Keel, who had been appointed to fill a vacancy, lost his 345th District Court judge position to Democratic challenger Stephen Yelenosky, who won by 12 percentage points.

Local Republican Mac McGuire stated in a just released Austin American Statesman article that "It scared the bejabbers out of her...In order to stay a district judge in Travis County, she's going to have to change parties."

This is the first party switch in years for Texas Democrats in which the Party gained a member rather than lost one. The impressive turnout and sharp move to the left in Travis County have forced Kocurek's hand as we welcome her into the Democratic fold.

Support the Travis Co. Democratic Party

Such party switches are a signal of a strong and vibrant County Party. By supporting the Travis County Democratic Party with a donation you can help fund the Fall 2006 coordinated campaign helping Democratic candidates like Valinda Bolton, Susan Steeg, and John Courage take office.

Add .01 to your donation to the TCDP to signal your netroots support for gaining more Democratic officials this fall!

Donate to the TCDP.


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Travis can lead the way (5.00 / 1)
Hopefully some of the magic can carry over to the state party (we'll see on Saturday). Many thanks to everyone who worked tirelessly in Travis County over the years.  I'm proud to be a small part of it.  Ok, Travis haters, pile on!

I knew I liked Kocurek (5.00 / 1)
I served on a Kocurek jury a few years ago and really liked her, and then was dismayed to learn she was a Republican. This tells me that my instincts were right -- she just didn't give off a Republican vibe. Glad to have her in the party.

I think we should be looking at voting records ... (0.00 / 0)
and identifying house and senators who are frequently voting with Democrats and approach them about joining us. There are many who switched because they couldn't win any more as Democrats. It's time to invite them to come home.

Faith Chatham

[ Parent ]
What trial? (0.00 / 0)
Just curious. How was the jury experience?

[ Parent ]
If we're smart... (0.00 / 0)
...we'll all get behind her in 2008. It will send a big-tent message that we're a welcoming party.

If we're stupid, we'll have a very divisive primary along the lines of "who's the real Democrat" reminiscent of the Triana-Soifer battle of 2004.

Kocurek's a good criminal court judge. She's from a well-known Republican family, but hey, so was FDR.

"Secrecy and a free, democratic government don't mix."--Harry Truman

I agree (5.00 / 1)
I think one of the neat untold stories of the campaign for TDP chair, is that bitter primary battle between Soifer and Triana, where Maxey was on the oppositie side of Soifer... Soifer is now one of Maxey's biggest supporters and a donor for his campaign for Party Chair. So much for grudges when winning works over the long term. Who knows, she may even run again in the future.

Welceom to the Party.

[ Parent ]
If we'll smart, we'll let the best folks fight it out and we'll decide (0.00 / 0)
...on the basis of who is best.  If she can stand up against good opposition, then she'll win. If she gets bested by good opponents, she'll loose. We don't necessarily have to support every one who decides it is to their personal advantage to fly with the BLUE flag over the RED flag. However, those who are like minded and like hearted to the values of the Democratic Party are welcome and I'll support them... if they are the best candidate.

We need to engage our brains folks and use some discernment. It will be easy to have incumbents calling themselves Democrats who are the same ole same ole we've suffered through these past years when the state was red. I'm definitely not referring to this lady. She is probably a really smart, addition to this party. I hope we meet her this week in Fort Worth.

Faith Chatham

[ Parent ]
Woohoo! (0.00 / 0)
I may be happier about this than about the abject failure of the FMA. Lots of good news today. Yippee!

Hill Country Ride for AIDSmy HCRA Page

Welcome Judge Julie Kocurek to the Democratic Party (0.00 / 0)
I think this is a great sign that Travis is taking back every last bit of this region and we are growing.  Congratulations to the local county party and our hard working activists working the area.  When we get out there and get active, we win.

This is only the first of a trend that we'll see (0.00 / 0)
We're going to have to start making decisions about the folks we'll suppport inside the party soon. We'll have the conservatives switching over (not referring to this judge, don't known anything about her) in mass soon when they realize their pay checks are on the line and being Republican is a sure death keel for political candidates.

We witnessed this thirty years ago when Reagan's coattail cost most down-ticket candidates their jobs.

Faith Chatham

Nonpartisan Judges (0.00 / 0)
Personally, I think judicial positions should be nonpartisan (along with the Sheriff's office, county clerk and district clerk offices, etc.).  But that's just me.

judges in Texas (0.00 / 0)
It is still beyond me why any office for court in Texas is partisan, we are one of the few states that does this. Of course this benefits the Republicans in the vast majority of the state as experience, practice, and fairness go out the window in turn for parisan ideological purposes.

[ Parent ]
I think they should be as well. (0.00 / 0)
But as of now, they aren't, so we deal with the system we've got.

Before you win, you have to fight. Come fight along with us at TexasKaos.

[ Parent ]
I can deal with it... (0.00 / 0)
...but perhaps Democrats can help change it.

[ Parent ]
I never trust a turncoat (0.00 / 0)
How can a person believe one set of things one day and then believe another set of things the next?  Isn't that called a peson without principles?  I've never trusted people who switch parties, no matter which way.  It's too politically expedient and opportunistic.  She switched so she could win, not because she believes in the things we do.  I hope she draws a STRONG DEMOCRATIC challenger in the 2008 primary so another DINO can be sent home.

Well, I hope she isn't a DINO, but... (0.00 / 0)
I still have an unseasy feeling about it, too.  Of course, I don't know her.

We need NON-PARTISAN judges in Texas!  I firmly agree with this sentiment.

[ Parent ]
Disagree (3.00 / 1)
I don't care why Julie Kocurek changed her party affiliation because anyone who's familiar with her judicial record knows she's a woman of principle who does her job well. Ask around. Kocurek is respected in the Austin legal community for being a competent, fair judge who cut her teeth prosecuting felony child abuse cases. And I agree wholeheartedly with the comment upthread about the idiocy of forcing judges to align themselves with a particular political party. I care less about the political leanings of our judges than their ability to be fair arbiters of the law. That said, Texas Democrats should embrace Kocurek rather than question her motives. Who cares why she did it? She's a good judge!

[ Parent ]
Agreed (0.00 / 0)
She's of a well known family in Austin as well. This is a party switch for someone in an office that most states don't have partisan elections for. I'm glad to have her expertise on our side going into 2008 with 100% Democratic Countywide Officials.

[ Parent ]
Now that's completely uncalled for. (3.00 / 1)
and based on absolutely no knowlegdge.

Come back to the reality based world, tmo,  it's a fine place to be.

Before you win, you have to fight. Come fight along with us at TexasKaos.

[ Parent ]
Come Back (0.00 / 0)
I'm living in the reality-based community.  The reality of the situation is that a political opportunist saw that if she stayed a member of the Republican party, her future in TRavis County politics was over.  We DO have partisan election of judges, like it or not.  But last week, Judge Kocurek aligned herself with the party of Tom Delay, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Rick Perry.  This weeks she stands with the Democratic party.  Political opportunists of any stripe make me sick.  Do you think Judge Kocurek "saw the light" and now thinks as a Democratic judge should think?  Does she respect the constitituion and the laws derived there from, or does she stand with the lawlessness of the current Republican party?  I'll welcome her when she puts in her time and her effort to help not only herself but other Democrats as well.  Our party stands for something, it's not just a vehicle to drive a political oppotunist from one job to another. 

[ Parent ]
you have no idea (0.00 / 0)
what Judge Kocurek is like do you?

[ Parent ]
Absolutely clueless. (3.00 / 1)
What this means, TMO, is that moderates are being driven out of the TX GOP.

We want moderates in TDP. This is their natural political home.

The Travis County GOP chair just lost the only county wide elected official he had. Of course, he can't admit that it's the GOP failure to speak to the concerns of Travis County. So he's gonna try to make it sound like it was because TCDP is such a bullying juggernaut and the Judge didn't want to lose her job.

Point is, he can't get her elected.

Did it hurt when the hook went in, tmo?

Before you win, you have to fight. Come fight along with us at TexasKaos.

[ Parent ]
Also, just a point (0.00 / 0)
If you're gonna be so all-fired sensitive when it's pointed out you have no evidence to back up your assertion-you should stop being so eager to slag other people off.

Before you win, you have to fight. Come fight along with us at TexasKaos.

[ Parent ]
Sensitive (0.00 / 0)
I'm sensitive?  You're totally suckered in my a name change from Republican to Democrat when there is no philosophical or idealogical basis for it.  There is only a opportunistic aspect to it.  The party I belong to and have been active in since I was 16 years old, stands for something.  It is not a vehicle to elect former Republicans to office, it is a gathering of idividuals who believe in dignity and humanity of all people.  Does Judge Kocurek believe in those things.  If she does, why had she so long alligned herself with the party that stands for anti-gay bigotry?  Why has she stood for so long with the party that believes that it's ok to tell a woman what to do with her body, why has she stood for so long with a party that has led us into a deadly, illegal, and tragic war in Iraq?  Those positions were apparently ok with her as long as they were helping her keep her job, but when they threatened that job, they were no longer her values.  There are plenty of qualified, exceptional attorney's who are Democrats, who have always been Democrats, who would make excellent replacements for Judge Kocurek, and they have NEVER aligned themselves with the forces of bigotry that are the modern day Texas Republican Party.

You talk about evidence?  The evidence is clear.  She aligned herself with the party of Rick Perry, Tom DeLay, Tom Craddick, George Bush, and Dick Cheney.  What's difficult to understand about that.  The harm they have done to our country while she stood by their sides is massive and irreperable.  Her conversion is too little, too late, and reeks of political opportunism, not of true ethical conversion.

We lose when we only care about winning. 

[ Parent ]
One more thing (0.00 / 0)
Maybe you could actually respond to the arguments I've made instead of calling me names and making oblique references to hooks going in.  What does that mean anyway?  Maybe I'm just dense and don't undestand the reference.  ARe you implying I can't think for myself?  If so, have the guts to say so.  Ad-hominen attacks are not arguments no matter how cute you think they are. 

[ Parent ]
You didn't make an argument. (0.00 / 0)
You called Judge Kocurek a turncoat, and ranted from there.

Before you win, you have to fight. Come fight along with us at TexasKaos.

[ Parent ]
Respond (0.00 / 0)
OH, I see you can't refute my arguments so you resort to calling my writing a "rant".  How very, very.........nonresponsive.  If I'm wrong, tell me how and back it up.  In my book, a turncoat is someone who turns their back on the people who put them in office for the political expediency of getting re-elected.  Now the people to whom she has shown her back are, no doubt, the kind of people who need to be abandoned.  However, the Democratic Party is not obligated to open it's arms to every person who believes they have a better chance of advancing their career by joining our ranks.  If there was some other reason that Judge Kocurek switched parties, you certainly haven't pointed any out in our posts.  Do you have any evidence, at all, that this party switch is anything more than an opportunistic move by an overly-ambitious politician?  If you do, I'd really like to hear it.  If Judge Kocurek has truly turned her back on the despicable things for which her former party stood, then great.  How did she do it.  What made her believe now, not 2 years ago, or 4 years ago, or 10 years ago that our ideas are the ones she wants to be a part of.  Was there some some sort of "Road to Damascus" conversion?  I'd really like to know.

[ Parent ]
You didn't offer any evidence to refute. (0.00 / 0)
Your opinion, which you are certainly entitled to, is not something I'm going to argue about. I'm just not going to accept it as factual without something to support it other than more opinion-no matter how heatedly delivered.

You are making an argument that, if extended, means that if someone didn't register as a Democrat at the beginning of their political career that they are not to be trusted. "Turncoat" was your word, not mine.

As in "I never trust a turncoat". Then you called her a political opportunist because she shared a party with the admittedly loathsome Delay, etc.

The only statements other than yours that indicate that are the quote from Travis County's GOP Chair. 

If we're going to start painting people by the company they keep rhetorically, does that mean you and he are two sides of the same coin?

Before you win, you have to fight. Come fight along with us at TexasKaos.

[ Parent ]
Re: The Road to Damascus (0.00 / 0)
That's certainly a legitimate question, and I'd be interested to read the answers to it. But from Judge Kocurek, not TCGOP.

You started this thread, however, speaking as if you already knew the answers, and that they painted Judge Kocurek as a turncoat, and not to be trusted.

Before you win, you have to fight. Come fight along with us at TexasKaos.

[ Parent ]
WHAT?!? (0.00 / 0)
First, I NEVER quoted the Travis County Repthuglican party chair.  What are you talking about?  Second.  How dare you?  The republican party chair and I are two sides of the same coin?  I have never, ever, at any time or place, voted for any Republican for any office, and I never will.  Is it the policy on here to only argue by ad-hominen attack?  How am I like the Republican chair that I never quoted?  Because I'm wary of those who whould use our grand party for their own ends? 

Then I was a young man, Phil Gramm was my DEMOCRATIC congressman.  I never voted for him, though I certainly never voted for his Republican opponent either.  Get that?  Even having Phil Gramm as my Congressman couldn't make me vote Republican.  I thought his act of switching parties was despicable.  The ONLY honorable thing he ever did was to switch parties, RESIGN HIS SEAT, and run as a Republican.  At least the voters had a choice then.

The very idea that I'm some sort of Republican troll is ridiculous on it's face and just ignorant in it's conclusion.  I take the Democratic Party very seriously.  After family and friends, it is the entity to which I have the most respect and commitment.

Why don't you want Judge Kocurek to expalin her reasoning behind switching parties?  There's really only two questions she needs to answer. 

1.  Would you have made the switch if you believed you could win your next election as a Republican?


2.  What is it about the Democratic Party that represents your values?

Easy questions, easily answered.  The second question should be asked of each and every person running as a Democrat.  The first? well, I'd be really interested to hear that answer. 

[ Parent ]
Sorry to have tripped such a hot button (0.00 / 0)
But that's the same kind of brush you painted Judge Kocurek with when you labeled her an untrustworthy turncoat.

Just to be clear, it was not my conclusion that you were a troll at all. My issue with you is how vehemently you trashed a Judge who has a reputation for fairness from all I have heard and bipartisan support  in the not distant past simply on the basis that she changed her party registration.

I'm fine with asking her questions. It didn't appear to me that you were going to wait for the answers.

You'd already convicted her of the crime of turncoatism.

Before you win, you have to fight. Come fight along with us at TexasKaos.

[ Parent ]
Together (0.00 / 0)
I've been thinking about the earlier tone of some of my posts.  I'm very distrustful of those who use the Democratic Party for their own ends while not sharing our values.  But in the end, I think it's really not something to fight about.  It's all about November!  If I've offended, I apologize.  I wish we were in Las Vegas with the Kossites having this discussion in person.

[ Parent ]
That would be swell. (0.00 / 0)
As it is, we'll have to settle for me buying you the beverage of your choice when we do meet up in person.

Before you win, you have to fight. Come fight along with us at TexasKaos.

[ Parent ]
Sensitive because you (0.00 / 0)
call arguing with you "unproductive" rather than shoring up your argument. Your rating bullying is an attempt to divert attn from your completely unsupported supposition.  It's based on pure prejudice at this point.

What is your basis for believing that Judge Kocurek did not make this change because she geniunely felt it reflected her own political convictions?

I explained why I consider the Travis Co GOP a suspect source for Judge Kocurek's motivations.

Your turn-if you can keep your finger off the rating button, that is.  Support your rant or understand that it shows nothing but your own bias.

Before you win, you have to fight. Come fight along with us at TexasKaos.

[ Parent ]
Apologies (0.00 / 0)
I shouldn't have rated your responses unproductive.  I should have let the unproductive nature of your "come-backs" speak for themselves.

[ Parent ]
I accept the apology (0.00 / 0)
And I'm perfectly happy to let my statements stand on their own to be judged by the reader on their productivity or lack thereof.

Before you win, you have to fight. Come fight along with us at TexasKaos.

[ Parent ]
This gives me such hope! (0.00 / 0)
My dad is active in the Travis County Republican party, and he has always adored Julie Kocurek. He tells me all the time how much she reminds him of me. Sometimes I have felt as though she were the daughter he wished he had - you know, the one who didn't betray the family by becoming a Democrat.

Now I see why she reminded him of me - she shares my values!

I haven't talked to my folks about this yet but I'm very curious to see whether they still like her now.

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