Watkins: Not Entirely Shook Up?

Toby Shook isn't gonna be Dallas County District Attorney, but that doesn't mean Craig Watkins is ready to get rid of his former opponent.

Dallas County District Attorney-elect Craig Watkins didn't exactly ease concerns that he wasn't quite up for the job during the Dallas County Democratic Party victory press conference this afternoon. Speaking at the party headquarters near Fair Park on Parry Avenue, Watkins was asked several times about his plan for the office. It was a very generic question, but one that Watkins continually brushed off. He told reporters to check his Web site and promised he would send out a press release. When a radio reporter asked him if he could at least talk about what was on the Web site, Watkins refused.

Then Watkins hurried out of the room, refusing to answer a question from this lowly Unfair Park correspondent. Here is what I wanted to ask him: Have you thought about asking Toby Shook to remain as the felony bureau chief of the District Attorney's Office?

That's not an entirely remote possibility.

Shannon Bailey, the behind-the-scenes star of the Dallas County Democratic Party who helped recruit candidates to run throughout the county, says that Watkins broached the possibility of trying to retain his former adversary. Bailey went to school with Shook, and Watkins knows the two of them go way back.

"He said, 'I need Toby. He's someone that I respect and would like to have his experience in office,'" Bailey says about his conversation with Watkins last night. Interestingly, while Paul Coggins, a trial lawyer and former United States Attorney for the Northern District, just finished telling Unfair Park that Watkins should make his Larry Jarrett his second-in-command, Bailey suggests that may be unlikely.

"When Watkins won his Democratic opponent [Jarrett] didn't call and congratulate him, but Toby did," Bailey says. "They agreed then that it would be a campaign on the issues and not on negativism and that both of them rose to that."

In addition to Watkins, Dallas County Judge-elect Jim Foster offered a few sparse words. When one reporter asked him about his focus on clean air, a demonstratable strength of incumbent Margaret Keliher, Foster replied, "Clean air is a Top 10 issue, Parkland is in the Top 10. We don't have to get into that yet."

At least the Democratic Party was able to show off several of its more impressive judicial victors, including Lena Levario. The relaxed, jean-clad Lavario came ready to talk specifics, throwing out statistics about the jail population and those on parole, among other issues. She added that the new judges as a whole plan to examine how justice is done in Dallas County, insisting that "every aspect of the criminal justice system has been looked at, and we have a plan to adjust it." --Matt Pulle

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky

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