Steve Smith ran against Don Willett for Place 2 on the Texas Supreme Court in 2006. Willett prevailed 280,356 (50.5%) to 274,302 (49.5%). See 2006 Republican Party Primary Election; 3/7/2006; Justice, Supreme Court, Place 2, Office of the Secretary of State.
Smith is challenging Willett again in 2012. Like last time, Smith is running on his record of achievement at the Texas Supreme Court. While on the Court, Smith authored sixteen published opinions, including the Court's important Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services v. Mega Child Care decision.
When initially appointed, Willett was criticized for having no judicial experience, having never argued an appeal, and having never tried a case. Since joining the Court, he has been criticized for substituting his own policy preferences for those of the Texas Legislature.
Rick Perry backed Smith's challenger in the 2004 Republican primary, publicly questioning both Smith's qualifications for and performance on the Court. Paul Green defeated Smith 52% to 48% and Perry's false statements regarding Smith were likely the deciding factor.
Perry's subsequent appointment of Willett to the Texas Supreme Court was hypocritical. In 2004, Perry had questioned Smith's qualifications even though he was an experienced litigator before joining the Court. In 2005, Perry appointed to the Court a partisan political advisor who had no meaningful litigation experience.
Based on a recent decision regarding public access to beaches, Jerry Patterson has stated that Willett should be defeated. See Official Wants Judges Ousted For Beach Ruling, Houston Chronicle, April 4, 2012 ("Voters should replace the five members of the Texas Supreme Court who issued an opinion weakening the state Open Beaches Act, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said Monday.").
Without question, Smith's significant judicial and litigation experience, conservative judicial philosophy, and well-known work ethic make him the most qualified candidate for Place 2 on the Texas Supreme Court.
Smith is running to give Republican primary voters a choice on May 29th. Unlike Willett and his financial supporters, Smith believes that ordinary Texans who are injured by the wrongful conduct of others should be able to recover their proven damages in court.
Smith is once again the underdog candidate. Texans for Lawsuit Reform and its big business allies are contributing an unprecedented amount of money to Willett's 2012 campaign to ensure that he remains on the Texas Supreme Court.
On May 29th, voters should reject the bid of Texans for Lawsuit Reform and its big business allies to permanently own Place 2 and instead return Steve Smith to the Texas Supreme Court.