At first glance, there seems little danger that R.D. Rucker, Democratic candidate for the 292nd Judicial District, might actually win.
After all, the days when a Democrat would automatically sweep into office are long gone. Dallas hasn't elected a Democrat to a trial court bench since 1992, when John Creuzot ran for the post--and he subsequently switched parties. For the last five years, the game at Democratic Party headquarters has been finding suckers willing to run.
"It's no secret that for a number of years the party has had significant problems recruiting candidates," sighs Ken Molberg, who for years ran, and some maintain single-handedly constituted Dallas' local Democratic Party. "There was a period there that we had a wide array of people--I believe around '92. I forget, '90, '92...And then, after the [Gov.] Bush defeat of Richards, it all kind of petered out."
Perhaps it is no surprise, then, that they haven't exactly vetted their lone candidate for judge. Since 1994, R.D. Rucker, a 48-year-old criminal defense attorney, has been the only Democrat with the will to try for a seat on a county bench. Rucker, a familiar face at the Frank Crowley Criminal Courts Building, ran for County Criminal Court No. 8 in 1994 and was defeated by Vickers Cunningham, 42 percent to 58 percent. He tried again in 1996, this time for Criminal District Court No. 4, only to go down to Manny Alvarez, 44 percent to 56 percent.
A hearty sort, Rucker is set to try again. This fall he'll take on Henry "Hank" Wade Jr., the Republican candidate in a contest for the 292nd Judicial District. Rucker has already raised a grand total of $200--more than he's ever raised this early in past campaigns. By now an expert at running campaigns on a shoestring, he's already printing signs, sending out fliers, trying once more for the brass ring. Indeed, if persistence is any criterion, one day he'll make it to the bench.
And more's the pity. Because, despite having run for judge for the better part of a decade, Rucker's own party doesn't seem to realize they're running a man whose writings reveal him as one of the most sexist and racist candidates to come along in Dallas County, which has a long and not-so-distinguished history of putting such men in black robes.
Yet thanks in part to the absence of a local Democratic Party structure, and in part to massive public apathy toward judicial elections, one of these days we may see him on the bench.
If not this fall, then soon. It's just a matter of time, says Molberg. "If you look at the stats, since '88 the [Democratic] numbers have been inching up. Ultimately, they will result in [Democrats] controlling the courthouse countywide."
On paper, few judicial candidates appear more qualified than the quiet, soft-spoken Rucker.
His resume, faxed at the Dallas Observer's request, lists his impressive accomplishments: a bachelor's in history from the University of Arkansas, a master's and doctorate in that same subject from the University of Iowa, including a two-year fellowship at Columbia University, and post-graduate study in Russia.
After earning his law degree from the University of Texas in 1985, he worked at a series of government jobs, first as an assistant attorney general, then as an assistant district attorney in Waco and a public defender in Wichita Falls. Since 1988, he has been a defense attorney in Dallas, and since 1992, he's been trying to get to the bench.
Rucker is a man on a mission. As he explained it to the Observer, "I am trying to promote the family agenda. Since the Dallas Observer has made an issue of my views on marriage and the family, I believe in the traditional family, a family based on a man and woman united around love and children." Indeed, beliefs about the family form the core of what he calls his "judicial philosophy":
"Those who commit crimes tend to have experienced a childhood family environment where the bonds of caring, affection, and love were exceptionally weak or absent. Ultimately, then, we will need to restructure our families on the basis of love. However, while this approach will best address and reduce our crime problem in the future, at present, we must more vigorously mitigate against crime, and protect ourselves from it," Rucker writes.
If it all sounds like typical liberal psychobabble, updated with a Clintonian, new-Democrat, "family values" gloss--well, rest assured that it isn't. In a series of books, Rucker unveils his truly amazing theories of what causes crime.
It all comes down to sexual orientation.
Rucker explains his theories in self-published books and pamphlets, available both at the public library and, by request, from courthouse gossips. The latest volume in this extraordinary series is a manifesto titled Marriage, Love and the Family: An Investigation into the Role of the Black Woman in the African-American Family, copies of which were circulating at the Frank Crowley Criminal Courts Building last week.
Like Freud, Rucker buys the instinctual-drive theory of what moves man; all human misbehavior, his writings suggest, is based on sexuality. According to Rucker, who plants himself firmly in the nurture side of the great nature vs. nurture debate, mankind begins life as a wee tabula rasa waiting to be screwed up by the folks. Rucker believes that human sexual orientation is determined exclusively by the quality of parenting one receives during the first five years of life.
As a result of mom and dad's parental negligence or lack thereof, Rucker writes, by age 5 the child will have been permanently fixed as one of four sexual "types": homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, and, most interestingly, a form that Rucker dubs "quartosexual."
"While hitherto it was thought that there were only three forms of human sexuality," Rucker explains, "Recent research has revealed that there is a fourth form." (Rucker footnotes himself here.) "Sexual type IV females are alienated from men, even their husbands," writes Rucker. "Their estrangement from men derives from their having been neglected in their infancy by their fathers. When their fathers failed to bond with them and/or to offer them love, the sexual type IV females start believing in female superiority and become anti-male.
"[I]n form, the quartosexual female resembles a heterosexual female. Both types seek love from men. The difference is a subtle one: the heterosexual female strives to be the 'partner' to and the 'helpmate' of a man...And, although she might have a career, her object is to love her husband and her children and to preserve, protect, and defend her family.
"The quartosexual female, on the other hand, never tires of being 'treated like a lady.' But a 'lady' is definitely what she is not. After all, a 'lady' is a woman in love with a man and is a man's woman...[T]he quartosexual female emulates her mother: she believes and ever proclaims that she is a 'strong and independent woman.'...If a man is part of the household, she will constantly agitate, argue with, and fuss at him."
In other words, the fourth type is that familiar scourge: the uppity, independent woman.
Rucker theorizes that men can also be "quartosexual." Yet he is clearly preoccupied with female quartos, who, he claims, constitute "at least 60, and it might be as high as 75, and perhaps 80, percent of black women." White women, Rucker suggests, are less frequently quartos, as evidenced by their "submissiveness" in bed and lack of attitude out of the sack. "Black men who flee from quartosexual black females find great joy in the arms and/or between the legs of white women. They come to believe that adult white females are dolls."
Offended yet? Wait--it gets wackier.
Not only has Rucker discovered a new "form" of human sexuality, he's discovered a whole new aspect of female anatomy. Forget the "G-spot"; Rucker theorizes that women have what he "scientifically" calls an "os compartment." "It is the opening in the back of the vaginal wall," he writes. "Normally closed, the woman is compelled to raise the shields there and to open her os under the impact of her vaginal orgasms...[T]herefore [when] a man causes a woman to have great desire for him and to have to part her back vaginal wall and give him access to her os compartment by giving her vaginal orgasms, the man will 'rule over' the woman." Such male rulership, he says, is "God's judgment" for Eve's sin.
In short, it's a part Freud, part Baptist submission theory, part misogynist locker-room wisdom, seasoned with a dash of racism and processed in the Cuisinart of Rucker's mind. The result is strange stuff, indeed: Rucker goes on for the better part of 60 pages about the problem of how to tame the quartosexual female, or as he sometimes refers to her, the "wild woman." Among the possibilities discussed: female circumcision, which to his credit Rucker rejects, if only because it is "exceptionally brutal" and is "foreign to the American, including the black, culture."
Instead, he offers his own "scientific way to 'tame' a 'wild' woman--since "it is only when a woman is submissive to a man that there is a possibility for family harmony." The method, which he describes as "God's method, the one provided by nature, and the one offered here as the scientific method":
A good hump, natch.
Rucker includes extraordinarily graphic instructions on just how to go about this, beginning with who must remove whose panties before intercourse. (Note: The Observer is not making this up.) From there, Rucker goes on for seven you-have-to-read-them-to-believe-them pages, along the way solving all the problems that plague the black family.
Crime? Substance abuse? Single-parent families? Gangs? The number of black men in prison? Obesity? Rucker's "scientific method," he claims, can cure them all. In the most amazing claim Rucker makes for his sexual snake-oil, Rucker even sets out to solve the mystery of why the black woman "tends to put on weight...about her posterior." (According to Rucker, quartosexual black women do this purposefully in order to keep men from ruling over them sexually--though he fails to explain exactly how this works on a cellular level.)
Throughout his extraordinary work, Rucker buttresses his arguments by footnoting to two sources: himself and the Bible. Rucker's other self-published books include Eros and the Sexual Revolution: Studies in the Psychology of the Human Mind and Drugs, Drug Addiction, and Drug Dealing: The Origin and Nature of, and the Solution to, the American Drug Problem. (The other two are on Abraham Lincoln and Jesus.)
"This is all news to me," says Molberg, the former head of the Dallas County Democratic Party, on whose watch Rucker first began running for judge.
"It's distressing," said Molberg, upon learning of Rucker's writings. "I did not know he was a writer. Frankly, in my limited dealings with him, I was unaware of that."
Indeed, Molberg himself lets slip the dirty little secret of judicial races: Even at the party level, nobody's watching.
Molberg--himself a lawyer and the senior executive committee member of the state Democratic Party--admits that even he doesn't usually scrutinize the party's candidates for the criminal bench. "Not being a criminal lawyer, I have a tendency not to pay attention to the criminal courts, 'cause I'm always focusing so much on the civil courts."
As he readily concedes, the party is in a bit of disarray. "It's no secret that the party has had problems for, I dunno, four, five, six years, recruiting," he says. "And the fact is, just like the Republicans know, is that anybody can walk in and file to run for office."
If the Dems aren't exactly patrolling the beat, neither are other self-appointed watchdog organizations. Somewhat frighteningly, Rucker is endorsed by The Committee for a Qualified Judiciary, a nonpartisan group of lawyers and businesspeople who put judicial candidates through the most vigorous check they get. "It's not a rubber stamp for anybody," says Bart Cousins, who chairs the groups evaluation committee but was unaware of Rucker's writings.
"There's certain things you can do," acknowledges Molberg. "I won't mention names, but, ah, I know that I actually strong-armed two or three--well, actually more, but--two or three people out of races who had filed, because I felt that they were...that their candidacy would be a disservice to the party."
The irony, of course, is that Rucker is running for the bench currently occupied by one of the Republican's own embarrassments, Mike Keasler. Judge Keasler recently had to issue an apology after a former bailiff produced racist notes the judge had passed to him over the years.
Rucker has a formidable opponent for Keasler's bench: Henry Wade Jr., son of the legendary cigar-chomping prosecutor who ran the Dallas County District Attorney's office for decades. With $19,000 in campaign contributions and virtually the entire population of the Crowley Courts building behind him, there seems little danger that this will be Rucker's year.
Indeed, Wade seems so confident that he doesn't intend to raise the topic of Rucker's writings in the general election.
"It's a contested campaign, but you know, in judicial elections, in a general election with a Democrat and a Republican, there's really not a whole lot of, you know, face-to-face contact.
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"I think it's the same for Republicans and Democrats. When they have somebody that they want to run, they certainly encourage 'em and help 'em, either raising money or scaring off other people. When they have somebody that they don't want running, then they can do things to discourage 'em. But usually that's in a situation where, it's more in primaries, they have selected someone they want to win; they would discourage the others."
Of course, Dallas County Democratic primaries are less populated than the Sahara. And without any party structure to speak of, there's no one to do the party's necessary dirty work--no one except a passel of curious Republicans.
"I can't make it an issue until I read the book," says Hank Wade Jr. "Now you've got my curiosity piqued.
"I have heard. I have not read 'em, but I have heard about, at least, parts of 'em. Where'd you get 'em?" he asks.