With the polls long closed, the unofficial results show ten incumbent judges in Harris County lost in Tuesday’s Democratic primary election and one is headed to a runoff.
Among the losing candidates: four criminal district court judges, two county criminal court judges and two family court judges.
“By and large, most Harris County Democratic primary voters have no idea who any of these people are,” said Mark Jones, a professor of political science at Rice University, who believes several factors played a role.
“Thus when they get to those races, they tend to vote somewhat randomly or women tend to vote for women, men tend to vote for men, Latinos tend to vote for Latinos because that’s the only information they have,” said Jones.
He said a significantly larger portion of the county’s Democratic primary voters are women. But Jones also believes the issue of bail played a role with certain voters.
“I think the best explanation is you had a small, sophisticated group of Democratic primary voters who effectively wanted to cast out most of the sitting criminal judges based on their displeasure with how those judges, as a group, have handled bail, especially for violent offenders,” said Jones.
But Odus Evbagharu, chair of the Harris County Democratic Party, sees things differently.
“It was the fact that we had competitive races and folks were able to talk to voters, and talk to Democratic voters in particularly, and talk about why they were best for the job,” said Evbagharu.
Even if bail or bond did not play a role in the primary election, Jones predicts it will be a campaign issue in the general election later in the year.