Red Turning Blue

From Holden:

A Bush-appointed Texas judge switches from Republikkkan to Democratic party affiliation?

I detect a trend.

Judge Julie Kocurek, the only Republican in history elected to a state district judgeship in Travis County, said Tuesday she has joined the Democratic party.

“My job in the courtroom is not a political job,” she said in an interview in her chambers. “This is really about me just being honest with myself.”


Then-Gov. George W. Bush appointed Kocurek as judge of the newly created 390th District Court in 1999, and a year later she defeated a Democratic challenger by a 4 percent margin.

Kocurek, a former prosecutor, ran unopposed for the post in 2004. That same year, incumbent Republican Patrick Keel, who had been appointed to fill a vacancy, lost his 345th District Court judge position to Democratic challenger Stephen Yelenosky, who won by 12 percentage points.


“My judicial philosophy has not changed,” she said. “But . . . they make us choose a political party, and I think this better reflects where I am on issues.”

She mentioned the national debate over funding stem-cell research and concerns about how education is treated on the state level as issues that drove her decision. She also noted that she has witnessed in her courtroom the effects of statewide cuts to the mental health system.

“People were taken from the mental hospitals, and now they are filling our jails,” she said.