Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal has withdrawn his name from the Republican ballot for re-election today amid pressure from his own party following last week's release of intimate emails he wrote to his personal assistant.
Rosenthal publicly had rejected the local GOP's call for him to drop his re-election plans or face the prospect of the party endorsing another Republican for the March primary.
His decision to drop out of the election was confirmed about 5:35 p.m. by Michael Wolse, the Harris County Republican Party's primary director.
The story goes on to identify Jim Leitner as filing to run as a Republican. He was mentioned in the story filed this morning:
Two of the potential candidates, according to sources, are defense lawyer and former prosecutor Jim Leitner and former felony court judge Patricia Lykos, who now works for Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. They both ran against Rosenthal in the 2000 Republican primary.
Let's skip to the part that concerns him:
Leitner, who placed third in the 2000 primary, said his experience on both sides of the courtroom would help the perspective of the district attorney's office.
In 2001, Leitner said he thought Harris County prosecutors were overzealous in their pursuit of death sentences against capital murder defendants.
"As long as that is the prevailing view, there are going to be a lot of capital murder prosecutions. People in other counties don't see it that way."
He added, "I think we kill a lot of people who don't fit the statute."
A Republican arguing against the death penalty. No wonder he came in third. Perhaps the climate has softened a little for his candidacy in the GOP this go-round.
That alone would qualify as progress.
Update (1/3, 5:30 a.m.): This morning's story quotes Leitner as saying he'll stand down for a more qualified challenger and names some assistant DAs as potentials ...
Top Rosenthal assistants Marc Brown, Stephen St. Martin and Denise Bradley, formerly Denise Nassar, also went through the interview process with party leaders, along with former state District Judge Patricia Lykos. Brown and Bradley said they will talk with their colleagues about becoming candidates, perhaps with only one emerging from Rosenthal's staff as a consensus choice.