Race allegations being made in justice election

July 19, 2012 3:52:47 PM PDT
There's controversy swirling in a runoff election for the state supreme court. Some are accusing the challenger of using race as a factor for getting into the race.

Local Latino leaders are beginning to voice their concerns because the run-off election is just around the corner. They're afraid that a comment allegedly made last year could long-lasting and have statewide implications.

On the court house steps, members of the Mexican American Bar Association held up signs spelling out their last names, making their opinions clear about a Latino last name controversy brewing in the run-off for Texas Supreme Court justice.

"We think better of the citizens of Harris County and Texas. We think they'll see through any type of racial pandering," said Angelica Hernandez with the Mexican American Bar Association.

The controversy allegedly began last year at Brennan's Restaurant, where lawyers Scott Link and Frank Harmon took potential supreme court candidate John Devine to lunch, hoping to convince him not to run against incumbent Justice David Medina. They were shocked by the answer they said Devine gave for running.

"I can beat a guy with a Mexican last name," Harmon said.

"What did you think?" we asked.

"Well I thought that was a horrible reason to run," he said.

Devine says he did have lunch here with two men but absolutely denies that he said a Mexican last name was his reason to run.

"I'm married to a Hispanic woman, so my kids speak Spanish and are half Latin for crying out loud. That is just a silly attempt to try to impugn my character," he said.

Justice Medina's campaign wouldn't comment, other than say the justice appreciates his supporters. Despite Devine's denials, the attorneys are standing by what they heard.

"I was surprised that in the year 2011, he or somebody else would actually come out and say that and he did," Harmon said.

Both men are on the ballot for the July 31 run-off election. Early voting begins next week.

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