May 31 2012
The Democratic primary for the 73rd District Court in San Antonio, Texas, featured an unusual coincidence. Both candidates were named Canales. That’s where the similarities end. Paul Canales has 37 years of legal experience, 22 as a judge. David Canales has been a lawyer for six years.
The campaign did not garner much attention in the media, and neither candidate engaged in extensive advertising efforts. Most voters knew barely anything about either Canales, but David Canales appeared first on the ballot.
Ballot placement likely won David the election. He beat the more experienced Paul Canales by 900 votes. An editorial in the San Antonio Express-News is taking these primary results as an indication that it’s time to revamp the judicial selection process in Texas.
“A system featuring appointments followed by merit elections — in which jurists face an up-or-down vote — would be preferable. … But until lawmakers decide to fix the broken system, judicial races in Texas will continue to be a dangerous roll of the dice.”
David Canales will face the incumbent, Republican judge in the November election. If the past two election cycles are any indication, the election will not be decided on merit or experience, but on which party’s presidential candidate does best in the county. As the editorial plainly states, “[T]hat is a terrible way to pick a judge.”