Candidates file for Jeff. Co. elections
With a couple of notable exceptions, the field has been set for the Democratic and Republican primaries March 4, 2014. The biggest surprise on the Dec. 9 filing deadline day came from Congressman Steve Stockman, who announced he would give up the District 36 seat he won in 2012 to challenge veteran incumbent Sen. John Cornyn.
Under Sec. 172.054 of the Texas Election Code, the last-minute withdrawal of Stockman extended the filing deadline for his congressional seat for another week with an unknown number of additional candidates expected to join the six who filed on deadline day.
For U.S. Representative in District 14, incumbent Randy Weber is unopposed in the GOP primary and will face the Democratic winner in November, either Buck Willis or Donald G. Brown.
In the governor’s race, Attorney General Greg Abbott and Sen. Wendy Davis will see minor opposition in their respective primaries before facing off in November. Incumbent Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst has Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Sen. Dan Patrick competing for the GOP nod, with the winner facing veteran Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, the Democratic nominee. A laundry list of multi-candidate races for the statewide offices they are vacating will also be waged, with room at the top for the first time in a decade.
Locally, the retirement of Rep. Allan Ritter has Judy Nichols of Nederland facing Dade Phelan of Beaumont with the winner facing Democrat Gavin Bruney.
In the race for justice, 9th Court of Appeals District, Place 3, Hardin County State District Judge Earl B. Stover III will challenge Beaumont attorney Leanne Johnson, recently appointed to that seat by Gov. Rick Perry.
For the District 7 seat on the State Board of Education, incumbent David Bradley is again being challenged by Rita Ashley, former aide to Sen. Tommy Williams. They will vie for the GOP nomination, with the winner facing Democrat Kathy King.
In the race for Jefferson County District Attorney, Judge Bob Wortham, a former U.S. Attorney, faces Perry Thomas, a Republican.
In the race for the 58th District Court, Nederland’s chief municipal judge Kent Walston, a Democrat, will face Republican Tom Rugg Sr.
Judge John “Johnny” B. Stevens Jr. is unopposed. For the 172nd Civil District Court, Republican Rick Williams will challenge incumbent Democratic Judge Donald J. Floyd.
The situation for Judge of the 252nd Criminal District Court was complicated by the withdrawal of incumbent Judge Layne Walker, who previously announced he was running but changed his mind. Republican Carolyn Drawhorn Wiedenfeld of Nederland had filed for the seat, as did Democrat Raquel West. Other candidates may be added as the same Sec. 172.054 of the Texas Election Code invoked previously applies here after Walker’s withdrawal.
In Family Court, veteran Judge Larry Thorne of the 317th District Court, a Democrat, is being challenged by Republican Jolei A Shipley. The retirement of Judge John Paul Davis from County Court At Law Judge Court No. 3 has drawn multiple challengers: The winner among Democrats Audwin Samuel, Jimmy D. Hamm and Terrence L. Holmes will face Republican Clint M. Woods.
The death of long-time District Clerk Lolita Ramos has Republicans Karen J. Stewart and Charlie Wiggins and Democrats Jamie Smith, Rose Mitchell Chaisson and Stanley Hatcher vying to replace her. County Clerk incumbent Carolyn L. Guidry, a Democrat, is being challenged by Republican Doug Landry.
Finally, in Port Arthur incumbent Justice of the Peace Precinct 8 Tom Gillam, III drew four challengers: Antoine “Ton” Freeman, Dawn E. Polk, Don Ray Collins, and Kenneth W. Marks. Like Gillam, all are Democrats.
In Hardin County, the retirement of County Judge Billy Caraway is the big news.
Seeking to replace him are Republicans David Bellow and Wayne McDaniel, and Democrat Anthony Kade Gibson.
Incumbent District Clerk Pam Hartt is being challenged by Lora Keefer, Dana Hogg and D’Wayne Crowell.
For County Commissioner Precinct 4, Andy Kelley, Alvin Roberts and Crystal Holmes are the candidates, also all Republicans.
In a sign of changing times, longtime Democratic County Judge Carl Thibodeaux is retiring after 16 years, but all the candidates to replace him are Republican. They include former state Rep. Mike “Tuffy” Hamilton, former Precinct 3 commissioner John Dubose, former Orange County Sheriff Mike White, and Stephen Brint Carlton, an assistant Orange County district attorney.
Four Republicans are running to succeed retiring Precinct 2 Commissioner Owen Burton, including his nephew Barry Burton, Jason Denman, Ron Cowling and Ted Williams. There are no Democrats in that race.
Incumbent District Clerk Vickie Edgerly will face challenger Kay Abbott in the primary.
James Shannon can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 249, or by e-mail at james [at] theexaminer [dot] com.