February 17, 2020

Rick Perry Poised to Take Credit in Payback Play
if GOP Challenger Beats Jurist Who Spurned Him

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor

Court of Criminal Appeals
Place 3 Fundraising 2020

Cash on Hand Jan 23
Bert Richardson (R-Inc)
30 Day Report: $8,110
Total Donations: $61,085
Total Spending: $26,121
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $37,126
Gina Parker (R)
30 Day Report: $3,300
Total Donations: $52,052
Total Spending: $97,720
Campaign Loans: $25,000
Cash on Hand: $13,504
Dan Wood (D)
30 Day Report: $2,296
Total Donations: $8,786
Total Spending: $109,490
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $7,753
William Pieratt Demond (D)
30 Day Report: $100
Total Donations: $4,350
Total Spending: $7,555
Campaign Loans: $5,000
Cash on Hand: $1,094
Elizabeth Davis Frizell (D)
30 Day Report: $4,635
Total Donations: $5,635
Total Spending: $5,354
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $280

Source: Texas Ethics




Former Energy Secretary Rick Perry is on a belated mission of revenge as the head cheerleader for a longtime GOP activist who's taking aim in a statewide race at a judge who kept a criminal case against him alive in his final year as the Texas governor.

Perry is claiming to have recruited Waco attorney Gina Parker for the seat on the bench that Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Bert Richardson of San Antonio is seeking again in 2020.

Richardson had been assigned to hear criminal charges that a grand jury in Austin had persuaded a grand jury in Travis County to serve up in 2014. Perry had been accused of abusing the power of his office by threatening to veto the budget for the state's public corruption unit in a power play aimed at pressuring the Democratic district attorney that oversaw it in Travis County to resign in the wake of a drunk driving arrest.

A state district judge at the time, Richardson had been elected to his current post in late 2014 when he rejected a move by Perry's attorneys to have the charges thrown out amid the assertion that they'd been political motivated and unwarranted.

While Richardson signed the order in 2016 that dismissed the criminal charges against Perry, the ex-governor hasn't been willing to forgive the jurist on the state's highest criminal court for the adverse ruling more than five years ago.

But Parker has substantial support beyond a former governor with a grudge and time to kill since leaving President Donald Trump's cabinet in December.

Parker has an extensive resume that includes stints as a city attorney, assistant district attorney and chair of the board that oversaw the Texas Board of Licensing and Regulation. A former Baylor University basketball player, Parker is well-known in Republican circles across the state as an activist who had substantial support in an open race for Texas GOP chair in 2004 before eventual losing to Tina Benkiser. Parker has been serving as the vice-chair of the McLennan County GOP.

Parker, who's been popular among conservatives, has a chance to become the first challenger to oust an incumbent judge in a statewide race in a primary election in Texas since current state Supreme Court Justice Paul Green unseated Stephen Wayne Smith in 2004 with help from Perry.

Parker has reaped endorsements from a growing list of current and former elected Republican leaders including U.S. Rep. Ron Wright of Arlington and State Reps. Charles "Doc" Anderson of Waco and Phil Stephenson of Wharton. Former congressional Republican Ted Poe of Houston is backing Parker in the primary fight with Richardson while a pair of ex-Texas House Republicans in Barbara Nash of Arlington and Molly White of Belton are in her corner as well. The Texas Right to Life's political action committee and several tea party groups have rallied behind Parker as well.

Parker has spent almost four times more on the criminal court contest than the incumbent who she has in her sights after raising more than $52,000 from contributors to go with a $25,000 loan that she used to get the statewide campaign off the ground. Richardson has rounded up more than $61,000 from donors and reported expenditures of $26,000 to the Texas Ethics Commission for 2019 and the first three weeks of January.

Democrat Dan Wood of Terrell had been the biggest spender in the Place 3 competition after shelling out more than $109,000 by the final week of last month. Houston attorney William Pieratt Desmond and former Dallas County criminal court judge Elizabeth Davis Frizell of Cedar Hill also are vying for the Democratic nomination and right to do battle this fall with the winner of the GOP primary duel between Parker and Richardson.

Perry had been in the midst of his second year as the governor when Smith knocked Xavier Rodriguez off the Texas Supreme Court in the GOP primary election in 2002. Rodriguez was a candidate for the high court for the first time after being appointed by Perry in a move that would ostensibly help Republicans here make inroads into the Hispanic vote. Smith's victory had caused Perry and the GOP substantial embarrassment amid perceptions that Rodriguez had failed to survive the primary because he's a Latino. Rodriguez is a current member of the federal Court of Appeals in San Antonio.


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