Hillary Clinton has staked her campaign on winning the Democratic primaries in Texas on March 4. But there’s even more at stake in the Lone Star State than the fate of her historic candidacy. In Travis County, a heavily Democratic patch of blue in a state that has most liberals seeing red, voters will choose a new district attorney for the first time in more than three decades.
Current DA Ronnie Earle is leaving office after thirty-one years. In an unusual race four Democratic members of his staff are vying to replace him. Because no Republican has filed for the election, the Democratic primary will determine the next Travis County DA.
Among the field of former colleagues, one candidate, Rick Reed, stands out as “the most progressive candidate in a race with three other candidates who all support the death penalty” according to the Texas Moratorium Network in its endorsement of Reed, who has come out against capital punishment. He also calls for a moratorium on current death sentences.
Beyond Reed’s brave disavowal of capital punishment in Texas, which leads the nation in state executions, the longtime criminal prosecutor supports the increased use of drug courts and an increased diversion of drug possession cases into treatment programs rather than incarceration; he has vowed to continue with the prosecution of former House Majority Leader TomDeLay, whom Reed had a major role in building a case against, and he has committed to working with the Innocence Project to exonerate wrongfully convicted prisoners.
Reed first worked at the Dallas County District Attorney’s office. For twelve years, he assisted legendary District Attorneys Henry Wade and John Vance. In 1999, his career brought him to Travis County, where Ronnie Earle quickly assigned him to the office’s Public Integrity Unit, in which capacity Reed had the responsibility of investigating and prosecuting public officials statewide. This is where Tom DeLay met the man determined to hold him accountable.
Co-written by Dinelle Lucchesi.