Smith's Opponents

Incumbent Cheryl Johnson, without notice to the public, decided not to run for re-election to Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 5.

Besides Smith, three other Republicans filed for the open seat:
 • Bexar County district judge Sid Harle;
 • Ellis County defense attorney Scott Walker; and
 • Williamson County assistant DA Brent Webster.

Steve Smith entered the race to ensure that Republican primary voters had a proven conservative choice in the race for CCA Place 5.

Sid Harle has the most criminal law experience among the Place 5 candidates but his conservative credentials are questionable.

For example, in 2013, Harle, a self-described moderate, considered running for Bexar County District Attorney as a Democrat:

"Democrats are urging the veteran judge to switch parties, while a group of Harle-friendly Republicans recently commissioned a poll to test Reed's political strength against a hypothetical field of GOP primary opponents (including Harle). Harle said he hasn't made any decisions, but is simply doing 'what all judges should do, which is listen.' He isn't ready to shut the door on a possible party switch, but said, 'I don't necessarily know that it would be in my best interest.'"

 Both parties could see Harle as DA,
 San Antonio Express-News, July 26, 2013

Not surprisingly, in response to the Dallas Morning News Candidate Questionnaire, Harle stated that he "favor[ed] non-partisan retention elections" over the state's current partisan judicial election system.

Scott Walker is basically a mystery. It is unclear whether he is a conservative or whether he is competent to serve on the CCA. He does not have a campaign website and is not actively campaigning.

Brent Webster campaigns as a "real conservative" but he does not have a record of previous statewide service or activities to support that claim. In any event, his obvious weakness is experience. The Texas Constitution requires that high court judges have a minimum of 10 years of legal experience. At this time, Webster, who passed the state bar exam in May 2006, does not meet that requirement.

Cheryl Johnson is not a conservative. At best, she is a moderate. See, e.g., her dissent in Ex Parte Perry, PD-1067-15 (CCA 2016).

Sid Harle often states that Johnson personally recruited him to run. See, e.g., Recommendations for candidates vying for the state's two unknown top courts Bryan-College Station Eagle, February 20, 2016 ("Harle is running at the urging of Judge Johnson.").

If Republican primary voters want to elect another moderate, Harle is the obvious choice for CCA Place 5.

If Republican primary voters want a conservative in CCA Place 5, proven conservative Steve Smith is the best alternative.