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A Good Night For Lawsuit Reform In Texas

11/6/14
TLR Chairman and CEO Dick Weekley

Election Day was a triumphant one for our nation, state and TLRPAC.  The victories in races for Texas state offices were a validation of the policies espoused by TLR and a renunciation of the self-serving practices and policies of the few dozen politically active personal injury trial lawyers who fund candidates opposed to tort reform. TLRPAC-supported candidates won statewide offices, critical legislative races and many important judicial races. 

We could not have achieved these victories without your continuing support and we thank you.  We also are mindful that TLRPAC does not appear on any ballot, and that the victories belong to the candidates who work so hard and well to achieve them.

Tort Reform Champions Win Statewide Offices

The potentially “game-changing” races for civil justice issues were the races for Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General.  The Democrat candidates for those offices were proven opponents to tort reform (Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte) and a declared opponent to tort reform (Sam Houston).  In contrast, the Republican candidates, Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick and Ken Paxton, are longtime supporters and advocates of a fair and balanced civil justice system.

        Greg Abbott won the governorship with 59.28% of the vote.

        Dan Patrick won the lieutenant governorship with 58.16% of the vote.

        Ken Paxton won the attorney generalship with 58.84% of the vote.

Expanding the Pro-Tort Reform Majority in the Texas Senate

In a critical state senate race, Konni Burton took back the seat in Tarrant County (SD 10), previously held by Democrat Wendy Davis.  Konni, a Republican, won that seat with 52.83% of the vote in a swing district.  TLRPAC contributed over one million dollars to Konni, which was needed to counter the large investment that personal injury trial lawyer Steve Mostyn made in Konni’s opponent.  Konni’s impressive victory increases the Republican majority in the Senate from 19 to 20 (in a body of 31).

Republican incumbent Joan Huffman (SD 17 – Houston) was challenged by a hard-working and well-financed opponent, and Joan won handily with 63.34% of the vote.  Joan, as a former judge, is a key senator in all matters related to our civil and criminal justice systems.

In two earlier special elections for the state senate this year, TLRPAC was the largest contributor to the victorious candidates: Republican Brandon Creighton in SD 4 and Republican Charles Perry in SD 28, each of whom served in the Texas House and is a proponent of tort reform.

Expanding the Tort Reform Majority in the Texas House

There were several contested races for the Texas House.  Pro-tort reform Republicans increased their majority in the House from 95 to 98 members (in a body of 150).

In a critical race in Galveston and Chambers County (HD 23), Republican Wayne Faircloth was in a fierce battle with former trial judge Susan Criss, who presided over the Hurricane Ike cases in which a few of her trial lawyer friends were enriched with hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees. Those lawyers, especially Steve Mostyn, bankrolled her campaign.  TLRPAC countered with over $500,000 in contributions to Faircloth, who won with 54.60% of the vote.  This was an open seat, formerly held by a personal injury trial lawyer who did not run for re-election.

Republican Rick Galindo in Bexar County (HD 117 - San Antonio) challenged incumbent Democrat Phil Cortez, whose campaign was financed by the Texas Trial Lawyers Association. This is a swing district with a large Hispanic population.  Rick won with 52.69% of the vote, another step in the right direction for Republican outreach to Hispanics.

Another key House race was in South Texas (HD 43), in which Republican J.M. Lozano won with 61.42% of the vote.  Lozano first won election to the House in 2010 as a Democrat, but then became a Republican and won election as a Republican in 2012 and again this year.  His convincing victory is another important factor in Republican outreach to Hispanics.

Pro-Tort Reform Republicans Sweep Dallas House Races

Five of the contested House races were in Dallas County, which Obama’s Battleground Texas has made “ground zero” in its attempt to “Turn Texas Blue.”

         HD 102, Republican Linda Koop won with 62.49% in an open seat.

         HD 105, Republican Rodney Anderson won with 55.44% in an open seat.

         HD 107, incumbent Republican Kenneth Sheets won with 55.01%.

         HD 108, Republican Morgan Meyer won with 60.67% in an open seat.

         HD 113, incumbent Republican Cindy Burkett won with 59.42%.

Texas Judicial Victories over Trial Lawyer Backed Challengers

Supreme Court:   Three incumbent Republican Justices drew Democrat opponents in the general election:

         Chief Justice Nathan Hecht won with 59.61% of the vote.

         Justice Jeff Boyd won with 58.92% of the vote.

         Justice Jeff Brown won with 60.34% of the vote.

         Justice Phil Johnson was not opposed by a Democrat.

Appellate Courts: The 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin hears all appeals from the State’s administrative agencies.  Republican Jeff Rose won the chief justiceship with 54.14% of the vote.

         The 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio is particularly active because of the oil and gas boom in South Texas.  Republican Sandee Marion won the chief justiceship with 55.66% of the vote.

TLRPAC Backed Judges in Harris County Sweep     

Harris County.  A significant effort undertaken by Paul Simpson, the new Chair of the Harris County GOP, in connection with TLRPAC and other organizations interested in fair and impartial judges, including the Houston Realty and Business Coalition, mounted a major effort for conservative and competent judges.  Republicans swept all of the Harris County judicial races. (Republican candidates also won all of the judicial races in Nueces County – Corpus Christi, and many in Bexar County – San Antonio.)

Jefferson County (Beaumont).  TLRPAC and many individual TLR supporters funded Republican candidate Rick Williams against an incumbent judge, whose campaign was bankrolled by personal injury trial lawyers.  As of now, Williams is behind the incumbent by a few hundred votes, but there are reports of widespread voting irregularities.  The Beaumont courthouse has been termed a “judicial hellhole” because of the influence the East Texas personal injury trial lawyers have over the judges.

Thank you for your continued support.

Richard W. Weekley, Chairman and CEO

Texans for Lawsuit Reform