San Antonio Judge Carlo Key’s re-election bid might have been expected, but his party switch wasn’t.
In an October 10 video, the Bexar County, Tex. judge announced he will run as a Democrat for his second term.
Although a Republican when he first won the County Court of Law Dist. 11 position in 2010, Key says he can’t represent that party any longer, and because of the far-right swerve the GOP has taken of late.
“I believe that justice demands fairness,” he says from the bench shortly after the video begins. “It demands careful and intelligent probing of evidence. And above all else, justice can only be served without prejudice toward race, color, creed or whom you choose to love. These principles have served as the bedrock upon which my rulings have been made. They are also my driving force. That is why I can no longer be a member of the Republican Party.”
As the video moves to images of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and an Obamacare demonstration, Key continues, “For too long, the Republican Party has been at war with itself. Rational Republican beliefs have given way to character assassination. Pragmatism and principle have been overtaken by pettiness and bigotry.”
Paraphrasing a notable quote from Ronald Reagan, Key adds “I didn’t leave the Republican Party; it left me.”
The GOP didn’t simply leave Key, though; some Republicans in San Antonio could even be targeting the judge, it seems.
Earlier this year before he announced his party switch, a primary election challenger began her own campaign, and apparently based on the incumbent’s refusal of particular evidence in his court.
Despite its use by Texas police and prosecutors, Key doesn’t allow officer testimony regarding HGN (horizontal gaze nystagmus or “fluttering eyes”) in DWI cases, a decision that has angered local law enforcement.
In a July interview with the San Antonio Express-News, Key cited a 1994 decision of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that ruled HGN tests couldn’t be used to determine influence of alcohol.
Challenger Julie Wright is an assistant district attorney in San Antonio, and her husband Marcus Booth is a lieutenant with the city’s police department.
Key has no opponent in the Democratic primary to date, and is apparently welcomed by Texas Democrats.
In an October 21 press release, state party chair Gilberto Hinojosa stated “we welcome Judge Key and all other Texans who want to join us and unite around common values, fairness, and opportunity.”
In 2010, he defeated incumbent Democrat Jo Ann De Hoyos with 52 percent of the vote.