Assistant DA Joins Developing Race

A day after Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal dropped his bid for re-election, a high-profile assistant district attorney has thrown her name into the hat. As Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports, Kelly Siegler is now the biggest Republican name to join the race to replace Rosenthal.

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"Let me see if I did all my to-do's."

At the Harris County Republican Party headquarters, Siegler, a 21-year veteran of the DA's office, officially signed the paperwork that puts her squarely in the middle of a race that has become much more interesting over the past couple of weeks. She'll now be a contender to replace her boss Rosenthal, who stepped out of the race this week.

"We can talk about political things all you want to, but the reality is the criminals who live in our county, and there are a lot of them, they aren't playing games, and those of us who work with the law enforcement officers on the streets know the reality of what life is like out on the streets. The people of this county should have someone working as their district attorney who will do their hardest to keep their streets safe from crimes being committed."ξξξξξ

Siegler is probably best known as a tough prosecutor who isn't afraid to re-enact crimes in somewhat graphic detail for jurors. She gained national attention when she brought a bed into the courtroom in the 2004 murder trial of Susan Wright, accused of stabbing her husband. Richard Murray is a professor of political science at the University of Houston.

"Particularly the dramatic re-enactment of a murder scene and securing a conviction in that case made her a visible media figure here, so you'd have to think that she will be a formidable candidate in the primary and if she is the nominee it will be an interesting campaign in the fall, a white woman prosecutor running against an African-American former chief of police in the city of Houston. Good for us political junkies."
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Despite what has been a rough patch for the Harris County Republican Party, local Democratic leaders say they're not changing strategy.ξ They say they still plan to convince voters Democratic district attorney candidate, former Houston police chief Clarence Bradford, deserves their vote based solely on his own merit, not strife in the opposing party. Harris County Democratic Party Chairman Gerry Birnberg says getting Rosenthal off the ticket was about more than just the DA's race.

"The panic-button that the Republicans hit certainly is evidence of the fact that they sensed the vulnerability of the county-wide slate. It wasn't that they were afraid of losing the district attorney's office, it was that they were concerned that the taint of a candidate such as Mr. Rosenthal and the ticket would affect all of their county-wide ticket."

Bradford is running unopposed as a Democrat. There are several Republicans in addition to Siegler who are seeking the Republican nomination.ξ

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