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Dallas Dems Sweep DA and Judgeships

By Bill Zeeble, KERA reporter

Dallas, TX – 38 year old Democrat Craig Watkins becomes Dallas county's first ever African American D.A. He campaigned on fighting crime in a different way, pursuing rehabilitation programs for non-violent law breakers, so when they return to their neighborhoods, they don't return to crime.

Craig Watkins, Dallas County D.A. - elect: It's time for new leadership. It's time to bring folks to office that are going to represent the citizens of Dallas County. We're going to reduce this crime rate. And in reducing this crime rate, we're going to address the underlying issues as to why these folks are committing these crimes. We're going to be smart on crime.

Zeeble: Career prosecutor in the D.A.'s office, Toby Shook, lost to the Democrat who nearly defeated Shook's boss, District Attorney Bill Hill, in the last election. Shook was gracious in defeat.

Toby Shook, Assistant prosecutor: Craig's run a great race. He ran tough and worked very, very hard. He's a good guy. You've got an office with extremely qualified prosecutors. So you got the talent there. That's a good thing.

Zeeble: Every contested judicial race in the County also went to Democrats. Livia Liu, Republican Judge in Criminal District Court 7, fears this is a continuation of diminishing Republican support in the county.

Criminal District Judge Livia Liu: Unless there's some sort of change in the party, 2008 is certainly going to be tough with the presidential election.

Zeeble: Democrats say early voting results hinted at this sweeping victory. It also reflected demographic changes that have made Dallas a majority/minority county. Outgoing Dallas County Judge Margaret Keliher may have summed up Republican sentiment this way.

Margaret Keliher, Dallas County Judge: I thought it could happen, I didn't think it would.

Zeeble: For KERA 90.1 I'm Bill Zeeble