Election Blog: Watkins Squeaks by in Dallas County District Attorney Race

November 2, 2010  

11:30 p.m.
By Lisa Collins

Votes were neck and neck in the race for Dallas County district attorney between Democratic incumbent Craig Watkins and Republican challenger Danny Clancy, with Watkins trailing just behind Clancy for most of the night.

However, with more and more votes pouring in for Watkins hours after the polls had closed, it appeared that Watkins had surged to the lead to maintain his position. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Watkins led by more than 5,000 votes (check page 16).

Four years ago, Watkins became the first African-American elected to the position of criminal district attorney in Texas. Throughout his service as DA he has had a 99.4 percent felony conviction rate.

He is best known for his efforts to free those wrongfully convicted of crimes. In July 2007, he established the Conviction Integrity Unit, which oversees the post-conviction review of cases using DNA evidence in partnership with the Innocence Project of Texas. Watkins spoke on campus at SMU in November of 2008 as part of a panel discussion on the subject.

To date, there have been 42 DNA based exonerations in the state of Texas. 20 of those have been in Dallas County, which outnumbers every other county by far.

Daily Mustang managing editor Aida Ahmed, reporting from the Democratic watch party at American Airlines Center, said 14 of the men who have been exonerated by the Conviction Integrity Unit took the stage Tuesday night to personally thank Watkins for his efforts.

Watkins’ opponent Danny Clancy, who was endorsed by the Dallas Morning News, has served as Dallas County Judge, Dallas County Assistant District Attorney, and private attorney.

The Dallas Morning News wrote in its endorsement of Clancy that Watkins “has become too political, too vindictive, and too stubborn to be effective” and that his “credibility has taken a significant hit, as his shifting stories and evolving explanations simply didn’t square.”

Though the election was close, voters seemed to say that Watkins’s credibility is intact and that his efforts have earned him another term.

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One Response to “Election Blog: Watkins Squeaks by in Dallas County District Attorney Race”

  1. The Real Hero Behind “Conviction” Talks to SMU Daily Mustang : SMU Daily Mustang on November 4th, 2010 11:23 am

    [...] think that’s largely due to the work of great prosecutors like Craig Watkins who is really taking responsibility in realizing that the whole system needs to work together to [...]