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Earle endorses First Assistant for District Attorney

Tuesday, January 8, 2008 by Austin Monitor

Outgoing Travis County DA Ronnie Earle endorseed his First Assistant on Monday, giving his nod to the staffer in the race with the most tenure in the DA’s office. Lehmberg, who has been a prosecutor for 31 years, is facing co-workers Mindy Montford, Gary Cobb, and Rick Reed in the Democratic primary. With no Republican candidate, the primary election or a subsequent runoff in April could effectively decide the race.


Earle made his opinion known with a mid-morning announcement in the plaza outside the Criminal Justice Complex attended by numerous reporters and several prominent attorneys. “When I told you that I would not be a candidate for re-election to the office of Travis County District Attorney,” Earle said, “I said that if a candidate comes forward whose election would, in my judgment, serve the best interest of the people of this community, I would make my opinion known. Today I am keeping that promise by endorsing Rosemary Lehmberg for Travis County District Attorney.” 


Lehmberg’s campaign had distributed an e-mail advising of a joint appearance by the two on Monday, but the candidate was not present at Earle’s news conference. “I am deeply honored to have the support and endorsement of Ronnie Earle,” Lehmberg said in a written statement. “He has given this community his vision and leadership and been a driving force behind building a district attorney’s office that is one of the most innovative and progressive in the nation.”


Earle pointed to Lehmberg’s oversight of every division within the DA’s office as one of the key reasons she had earned his support. “For the past ten years, as First Assistant Travis County District Attorney, she supervised the work of all of these divisions,” he said. “She has risen to the position of First Assistant precisely because of her leadership qualities, her judgment, and her ability to set that crucial tone of respectfulness that brings people together and ensures open discussion and debate of differing ideas in the spirit of seeing that justice is done. Rosemary Lehmberg has had a greater role in the success of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office than other single person.”


Earle wasn’t the only high-profile Democrat making an endorsement on Monday. Former Travis County Democratic Party Chair Chuck Herring distributed an e-mail praising Cobb. “Gary is a recognized expert in his field—he has taught at UT School of Law and is on the faculty for the national district attorneys’ association,” Herring wrote. “Gary also is simply a very genuine, likable guy—juries like him and so does almost everyone else who meets him.  We believe he will be an excellent campaigner and an excellent representative of our community.”


With four current staffers in the race, Earle said he hoped the campaign would focus on the positives of each candidate and of the office. “I am pleased and proud that my office has produced so many fine candidates for District Attorney,” Earle said. “It is a great opportunity for the public to learn about what we do. I look forward to the upcoming weeks because I fully expect these four candidates will set a fine example and a better standard for debating ideas in public the way a democracy should.”

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