Last month, the League of United Latin American Citizens invited several folks running for political office to breakfast at El Ranchito in Oak Cliff, where a crowd of eager politicos seemed surprisingly awake for a Saturday morning. The featured performers of the event were the Democratic and Republican candidates for district attorney, and after each of them detailed their backgrounds, one candidate in particular stood out: Democratic candidate Larry Jarrett. Despite an annoying tendency to speak in the third person and repeatedly employ grade-school slogans, such as "Jarrett for Justice," he clearly distanced himself from his main Democratic rival, Craig Watkins. Jarrett wasn't just intelligent, energetic and progressive about the role of a district attorney--hint, it's not all about obtaining convictions--but he had a compelling biography as a former Marine turned federal prosecutor whose career, it seemed, was the perfect prelude toward serving as the top law enforcement official in the county.
In contrast, Watkins, while affable and knowledgeable about the office, was generally uninspiring. He tried to paint himself as an outsider, but in doing so managed to highlight his own lack of experience. This is a long-time defense attorney, after all, who has no real experience prosecuting big-time criminals, and we're going to trust him to put away murderers, drug dealers, rapists and publishers of newspapers with trumped-up circulation numbers. Speaking of which, that same newspaper would later reveal that Watkins doesn't pay his income tax. Unbelievably, Watkins would later dismiss his inability to follow the law as irrelevant to the campaign, which would be like a paraplegic claiming that his lack of mobility is not an issue in his bid to play receiver for the Cowboys.
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So what happened last night? Watkins nearly doubled Jarrett's vote total, avoiding a run-off so that he could face Republican victor and uber-prosecutor Toby Shook in the general election. While Shook's main rival, Vic Cunningham, quickly threw his support to his GOP colleague, a clearly dejected Jarrett told The Dallas Morning News he didn't know who he would support. —Matt Pulle