With a little more than a week left for candidates to file for state and county offices, the field for the 2014 elections is taking shape. It appears it will be a crowded Republican field for many offices, but among the Democrats, members of the county’s once-dominate political party, there is a dearth of candidates.

Nine of the offices up for election next year will be contested in the Republican primary.

In two races — County Commissioner Precinct 2 and 212th District Court — there are at least five candidates seeking the GOP nomination.

County commissioner’s race full

Kevin O’Brien, who was elected during the 2010 Republican sweep, faces five challengers in the primary. Among them is his primary opponent from three years ago, Joe Giusti.

In what was then a surprise, Giusti, the Precinct 4 Chief Deputy Constable, lost to O’Brien by just 30 votes in the 2010 primary. This go around, Giusti is joined by Santa Fe businessman Andy McDonald, Galveston engineering company owner Janet Hoffman and Galveston construction company owner John Listowski in challenging O’Brien.

Galveston school board member Beau Rawlins announced his candidacy via Facebook and filed with the county party, but as of Tuesday had yet to file a treasurer’s report with the District Clerk’s office, which is required to spend or raise funds for a campaign.

No Democrats have announced for the office.

The other commissioner’s office up for election is Precinct 4, where incumbent Ken Clark has not drawn a challenger.

Criss out, GOP dominates

Another crowded race will be the GOP primary for the 212th District Clerk. Judge Susan Criss, a Democrat, who holds that office now, announced she doesn’t plan to run for re-election. She confirmed that she plans to resign from the bench next week and is expected to run for state representative.

That leaves the judgeship wide open and already five candidates — all Republicans — are racing for the nomination.

Patricia Grady, wife of County Court No. 1 Judge John Grady, is running, as is attorney Bret Griffin. Keith Gross, Rob Swofford and George Young join them in the race.

Griffin is rumored to have a slight advantage in the race once Criss resigns. That’s because once Criss steps down, Gov. Rick Perry will appoint someone to fill the remainder of the term. Griffin is thought to be the person Perry is looking to appoint.

Another crowded GOP field will be the race for the 306th District Court, where Democrat Janice Yarbrough doesn’t plan to run for re-election.

Jennifer Burnett, Anne Darring and Wilfried Schmitz are each seeking to be the next judge.

Field full for troubled court

The other open judicial race is for County Court No. 3. The office was once held by Christopher Dupuy, who in September resigned from office — after he was forced off the bench due to suspension — and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of perjury and abuse of official capacity.

Dupuy was one of two candidates who took advantage of the 2010 Republican sweep to get elected but were later forced from office. Former District Clerk Jason Murray, who was charged in a domestic abuse case and spent time in jail, also left office in disgrace.

Seeking to replace Dupuy are Kerri Foley, who was appointed to that post after Dupuy was ousted. She’ll be challenged by attorneys Jack Ewing, Donnie Quintanilla and Byron Fulk.

No Democrats have filed.

In County Court No. 2, Republican Judge Barbara Roberts drew a primary challenge from Jonathan Kieschnick.

County judge, DA opposed

There are also primary challenges coming for first-term County Judge Mark Henry. It appears Henry has the backing of the bulk of the county’s Republican establishment, but that didn’t stop business owner, real estate broker and sometimes actress and reality TV personality Michelle Hatmaker from mounting a challenge.

Hatmaker has the backing of County Tax Assessor Cheryl Johnson and Precinct 4 Constable Jimmy Fullen. She hired former Channel 13 investigative reporter Wayne Dolcefino to work on her campaign.

This race has already, via social media mostly, turned nasty. A Hatmaker fundraiser in Hitchcock was canceled with both candiates going to Facebook to blame the other for why the event was put off.

District Attorney Jack Roady is facing a primary challenge. Philip Morris, who initially filed to run against Henry for county judge, switched to run for district attorney.

Morris lost a race for district court judge two years ago.

New JP lines

The redrawing of the county’s justices of the peace precincts, from nine to four precincts, set up some interesting primary races.

In the new Precinct 1, current Precinct 7 Judge Toni Randall faces Alison Cox and Stephanie Barnett in the primary. Cox is the wife of District Court Judge Lonnie Cox.

In the race for Justice of the Peace Precinct 2, two candidates are running for the GOP nomination and one is running as a Democrat.

Jim Schweitzer, the Precinct 1 justice, has switched parties to run as a Republican. Santa Fe school board member Jason O’Brien will challenge him in the primary.

O’Brien is the son of County Commissioner Kevin O’Brien.

The winner of that primary will face current Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Mike Nelson in November. While a Democrat, Nelson has support among Republicans.

Nelson isn’t the only Democrat to file for office. Current Precinct 5 Justice of The Peace Darrell Apffell has filed to run for the newly formed Precinct 3.

Battle for state rep

With Craig Eiland’s announcement that he won’t seek re-election for the District 23 state representative seat, there’s another open seat up for grabs.

This one, however, promises to feature a contested race in November. Eiland successfully beat back strong Republican challengers the past two elections.

For the Republicans, 2012 GOP nominee Wayne Faircloth is running again after surviving a primary runoff two years ago before losing to Eiland. But the insurance agency owner won’t have easy sailing in this primary either.

Bob Senter, a senior manager for a Texas City-based insurance firm, seeks to challenge Faircloth.

The winner of that race likely will face Criss in the November general election.

Where are the Dems?

In a show of changing times, few Democrats are expected to run in what was once a Democratic county.

Galveston County Democratic Party Chairman Lloyd Criss said to expect that to continue. While he said he’s talked to some potential candidates for judicial races, no one has committed.

He also hinted that the Democrats may not mount a challenge for county judge. He did say his primary focus was to find a Democrat to run for U.S. Congress.

The District 14 congressional seat is held by Randy Weber who thus far is unchallenged in his primary after beating a field of nine two years ago.

The deadline for candidates to file for office for the Republican and Democratic primaries is Dec. 9.

Contact Mainland Editor T.J. Aulds at 409-683-5334 or tjaulds@galvnews.com.

(25) comments

Jose' Boix

Great article unraveling the many candidates and positions to be voted in the primaries and elections.

Gary Miller

Of Democrats calling themselves Republicans. They switch parties because they expect few, or no, Democrats will be elected in Galveston County.
Conservatives call them RINOs.
If they are known as Conservative Democrats, a few still exist, they might be OK but most are not.
Tea Party fact checkers will let us know which are which.

Kevin Lang

IHOG, would those be the same Tea Party fact checkers that gave us Jason Murray and Christopher Dupuy?

I think I'd rather the candidates themselves came out in the open and discussed their views honestly and openly. I'd much prefer the fact checking to be open to all of the voters, rather than just a political endorsement. The political fact checkers are mostly interested in whether the candidate can win the election and put another check in their column.

Carlos Ponce

"I think I'd rather the candidates themselves came out in the open and discussed their views honestly and openly. " That's what got Obama elected- political rhetoric designed to get votes but not to be followed when elected.
Senator Obama was against raising the national debt. Senator Obama was against passing on a huge debt to our progeny. Once elected and seeking a second term, President Obama promised EVERYONE you could keep your health plan and doctor. We need fact checkers. A fundraiser for Cornym got flustered when I called the Senator a Conservative In Name Only. He talks the talk but he does not walk the walk when it counts.

Gary Miller



If we had fact checkers in 2008 Obama would not have ran, been nominated or elected. He'd have been the STD of politics.
All we knew about him was what DNC speech writers put on his telliprompters.
A promise an hour and a lie to match.
When Pelosi manipulated the DNC primaries, by instructing the "super delligates" to support Obama, people should have known something was wrong.

Kevin Lang

You say you disagree, but everything you wrote smells of agreement. If you believe that Obama spoke rhetoric, rather than openly and honestly, then you've made my point, not contradicted it.

Miss Priss

I hope Senter can beat Faircloth - didn't realize what a buffoon Faircloth was until he spoke at a TEA party in the last election.

I think the democrats are working to see that Bret Griffin gets to fill Criss' seat. I suspect lots of deals being worked at the state level to make that happen and Pat Grady probably doesn't have a chance at winning this seat after Griffin fills it until the election.

Ron Shelby

What a mess, and what a mess of awful candidates challenging incumbents. Some as former county offended so many. Others couldn't get elected before, even with weak opponents. As for some not drawing any candidates....foolish and sad for the future of the county.

Democrats are now making the exact same mistake Republicans did before. At least place a name on the ballot, (vet them first). Its stupid not to as it gives everyone a feeling of how voters feel and what they want...costing very little.

As for internal party squabbles... Sad. People like that would be the first to go at their party reelection. I'll support any running against them.

Miss Priss

I agree with Ron Shelby. I and many others have tried feverishly to get someone credible and of high standards to run against Clark. The problem is that the people who are truly worthy of it and have any sense don't want to muddy their reputations by running against folks like Clark. There is absolutely no interest in it.

It's unfortunate but people just don't look up to the elected officials like they used to in county or state government.

Gary Miller


If you expect perfection go to church. After a careful selection process.
Dupuy and Murray were two mistakes out of several hundred successes all across the county. They proved to be flawed after they defeated their equally flawed opponents.
In a way they were a success. We are rid of them both and those they defeated.
The successes haven't been noticed because they've been quitely doing what they were elected to do.

Dorothy Holt

I cold not have said it better, IHOG. We can't get 'em all right but the ones we do are sure nice and sweet.

Kevin Lang

Christopher Dupuy was "equally flawed" in comparison with Judge Quintanilla? Certainly, that's just a case of the fingers typing faster than the brain. There may be some substance worth debating in Roady's election. If the "fact-checkers" were interested in any red flags, there were plenty with Murray before the Primaries. I can certainly understand the desire to back the primary winner in the general election, but the "conservatives" got behind Murray in the primary because he CLAIMED more loudly (perhaps because his opponent was female?) to be the most conservative, and there was no attempt by the Tea Party to disrupt the momentum. In the general election, in the eyes of the voters, there was only one flaw that mattered--the letter "D" under party affiliation. Especially in Dupuy's case, it was NOT about getting the best candidate. The "fact checkers" wouldn't have found it difficult to determine that he wouldn't be partial in family law cases, and certainly would have seen the blatant issues with his residency. It was far more important to put a "R" in that seat than it was about fairness, honesty, integrity, or anything else. Murray's problems weren't all that well hidden, either. Sure, you can make claims that Murray might have been better than the alternative in the general election, but perhaps not better than the alternative in the primary.

If the Tea Party claims to be of a higher standard, why should we excuse their fact checkers for 3 conservative candidates that have been far more controversial than conservative or effective? Do you deny that those 3 lend credence to the possibility that they're perhaps as charged by politics as the liberal "fact checkers" and also equally charged by facts?

Gary Miller

I repeat if you want perfection you'll need to carefully choose your Church. Why are you not aplauding the hundreds of successes as strongly as you attack two failures?
"R" stands for reform, "D" stands for distress. The Tea Party is the reformers of both parties.

Kevin Lang

It seems to me that the Tea Party is the one setting the standard. If they want to be the standard bearer, they need to live up to it. I haven't even heard the Tea Party claim the mistakes and say that they will try not to make the same mistakes again. I take that to mean that the Tea Party doesn't believe a mistake was made. Don't claim to be better when you're only willing to be the same as the rest.

My impression is that if candidates like Murray, Dupuy, and Roady present themselves again in races against Democrats, the Tea Party will jump in with an endorsement. Give me some substance to believe that's not true, and perhaps I'll consider the Tea Party label to be a differentiator. Otherwise, I'll consider it to be just another meaningless label like Democrat and Republican.

George Croix

Who cares what they call themselves.
We've altready proven we'll tolerate gross incompetency, narcissism, abuse, petulance, ad hominem attacks, serial lying, waste, fraud, verbal abuse, two-facedness, more serial lying, diversion, distraction, deception, even more serial lying, cronyism, imperiousness, prevarication, mendacity, duplicity, and the unfettered using of OPM to pretend to fix what isn't broken while funneling our cash to friends, cohorts, rear kissing toadies...or self. From both Parties.
There are still competent leaders out there, but they are unable to be elected, and/or unwilling to run, due to 'voters' more concerned with the latest Kardashians episode or their X-box and with getting 'government money'. Or, worse, too lazy or too dumb to vote, or to understand that 'protest voting' is just a cop out that practically guarantees the incumbent, good or bad, gets re-elected. In our system, you cannot 'not vote'.
Until we stop caring what Party the candidates are running under, and start caring what they actually bring to the table, REAL tangible qualifications, not promises, we'll continue all too often to get what we asked for.
You get results from actions, not words. From taking charge, not making excuses. from forging a team, not dividing and blaming.
The problem with the American political system is US. The voters.
There is life beyond your smart phone and the Kardashians. There really is!
Until we hould OURSELVES responsible for making the choices we make, we cannot expect the ones elected who turn out to be lousy to take any responsibility for it.
The answer is NOT to rob Peter to pay Paul, nor is the answer total disregard by Peter for Paul's situation. Therefore, the answer will never come from following the exhortations of local, state, or national ideological Party hacks. Just look around right here locally and see plenty of examples of same to avoid.
Rather than send a single dime to the DNC or the RNC, or read their propaganda or repeat their self-serving talking points, why not use your head and make up your own mind. Send your dime to a candidate YOU believe in, not the one you are told to believe in, whatever their Political consonate descripter of choice is.
Look what not doing that has done to this country...

Kevin Lang

gecroix, I believe you nailed it with your diatribe. I think that a major detriment to the system right now is that all the candidates hide behind some kind of veil, and, since we have to vote for one of them, they all believe that's the way to get elected. It would be nice if we could have a true "None of the above" option on the ballot. If "None of the above" gets more votes than any other candidate, then everyone goes back to the drawing board. Until someone comes out and gives us concrete reasons why we should vote FOR them, rather than blanket attacks on the opponents in order for us to vote AGAINST the others, we just keep voting for "None of the above". That way, the "protest" votes will be given a reason to go to the polls. Hopefully, this will lead to clean campaigns run on substance rather than style, innuendo, and accusations. And, the myth that candidates that run smear campaigns will somehow come clean after the race and show real principle. These days, all of the candidates are heavily "principalled", however, they want us to be convinced that the spelling above is an incorrect spelling of "principled" (which very few are).

George Croix

So, I am supposed to be 'bitter' just because I hold a strong opinion?
It's actually possible, in non-'progressive' circles, and amongst other normal people, to care about the whole and do so from an analytical standpoint, a weighing of evidence, an observation of performance, not just one driven by anger or spite for some opposing views.
And, eventually, the 'progressive' among us, whomever they are, and if they are, must recognize the difference between 'bitterness' and just plain old Texas-styled mad as hel_.
It's how Boston ended up with a harbor full of tea...
Anyway, you may not have meant it that way, but you have so darn many hands it's hard to figure out if you're counting to 1 or giving the finger. [beam][beam]
But, I'm not mad about that...[wink]

Kevin Lang

I have no clue about how you're perceiving my use of the word. I'm using it in the sense that your comment was pretty pointed. Maybe my use of a word that connotes anger, disgust, or bitterness was a bit strong, but it seemed to fit. It wasn't like you intended your words to be perceived as joyous, ecstatic, or cheerful. I don't think you intended it to come across as purely unemotional.

How about if I rephrase the first sentence as:

gecroix, I believe you nailed it with your pointed, and accurate, discourse on the way it is, and how too many people are perpetuating it while pretending to protest it.

I didn't know the forum was being moderated by Sistrunk, or Pulitzer, or the like. In the future, I'll try to make better consideration of word choice, so as to not destroy my chances for a literary award. [beam]

George Croix

Webster tells me what words mean. It doesn't tell me how folks mean them.
A request for clarification is SO much better than assuming, don't you agree?
Anyway, your re-assessment and interpretation is a lot better than your first go round. It's almost like I wrote it myself...[wink]
I still have a little more work to do with you on those comprehension skills, but you're getting there...[beam]. The sarcasm you've got down pat....[beam][beam][beam]

Kevin Lang

Actually, according to Webster online, it can be defined with or without the "bitter" part.... Anyway, whether you're bitter or not, I'll leave that for those that know you better to decide :-)

Dorothy Holt

kevjlamg...sounds like you are the bitter one. How juvenile!

Kevin Lang

I cannot begin to fathom where you're coming from. I thought gecroix and I were just taking part in a good-natured chat. Maybe having a little fun with the discussion is a little juvenile, but if so, I'll take that. I hope I never get too old to enjoy a juvenile moment here and there. Bitterness? Not me. Life treats me too well, and I enjoy teetering on both sides of the political spectrum in order to try and keep what, to me, seems to be a healthy perspective.

If you would care to elaborate on what makes you think I'm bitter, perhaps I can figure out how to break that perception. It's neither my intent to appear bitter, nor my desire to ever be so. If you see a sign of it, let's destroy any semblance of it now, rather than let it feed and grow.

JT Edwards

Hi TJ...

Question. Who are the establishment Republicans...? Who made that term up?

Miss Priss

Is Barbara Meeks running for Repulican chair again or is she stepping aside for DJ Alvarez?

JT Edwards

From what I understand Barbara is running again. Alvarez is running also from what I have been made to understand.

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