Amarillo's paper, the Globe News, has been running a series of profiles on area legislators. What a wonderful idea that some of the other dailies in Texas might want to adopt.
Today's is on Sen. Robert Duncan:
Imagine representing an area larger than Mississippi.Retention votes for judges are much better idea than partisan votes. But it requires a bunch of legislators sticking their neck out because they care about justice.
State Sen. Robert Duncan has been doing it for 10 years. District 28, which includes 46 counties, is the second-largest state Senate district, not only in Texas but in the continental United States. Only neighboring Texas Senate District 19, which stretches from San Antonio to El Paso County, is larger.
Duncan, a lawyer who served for four years in the Texas House before being elected senator in 1996, is a key player in the Legislature. He chairs the influential Senate State Affairs Committee and sits on the powerful finance and education committees. In the 79th session he was also a member of the Subcommittee on Capital Funding for Higher Education, Natural Resources, Jurisprudence, Joint Select Committee to Study the Texas Health Insurance Risk Pool Deficit, Interim Committee to Study the Power of Eminent Domain and the Joint Select Committee on Windstorm Coverage.
"He's very well-respected," said Harvey Kronberg, editor of the Quorum Report, an online newsletter that focuses on the Texas Legislature.
One of Duncan's goals for the upcoming session is to give the governor more of a say in appointing judges. Under the current system, even if a judge is appointed, before his or her term expires, he or she must run for the post and that is not always the best way to retain experienced jurists. As it happened in the Nov. 7 election in Dallas County where the Democrats swept all the local races, judges are often kicked out of a courtroom because they are affiliated with a losing political party, Duncan said.
Under his proposal, the public would periodically vote on whether to keep judges but the vote would be based on the jurist's record, not party affiliation.
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