Two Republican Challengers seek to unseat Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan
Vince Ryan was elected as Harris County Attorney in 2008. In 2012 he faced a republican challenger but survived re-election as did most democrat officeholders in Harris County. This year, two republican candidates are facing off in the primary for the chance to face Ryan in the November general election.
Chris Carmona is a young attorney who has been active in the Young Republicans. This is not the first time he has sought political office. In 2014, he was unsuccessful in his attempt to unseat democrat state rep Jessica Farrar. Carmona was licensed as an attorney in 2010 and his practice appears to focus on family and criminal law.
Candidate Jim Leitner has been licensed as an attorney since 1975 and has worked in the Harris County District Attorney’s office both as a prosecutor early in his career and as First Assistant under Pat Lykos. He has also been in private practice. He has run as a republican candidate for DA in the past and has served as special counsel to the sheriff.
Carmona and Leitner were not the first candidates to file for the republican nomination this cycle. Jacqueline Lucci Smith filed and then withdrew her name. She is now the treasurer for Carmona. Lucci Smith worked in the County Attorney’s office during my administration. She then worked in the Harris County Tax office before being elected to Harris County Civil Court at Law Number 2 in 2006 and resigned to enter private practice in 2014.
What is the Harris County Attorney?
The Harris County Attorney’s Office handles civil matters for Harris County government including civil litigation, contracts, condemnation, employment matters and Children’s Protective Services cases. When I was the County Attorney, we had about 80 lawyers (and 200 support staff) and represented the Harris County Hospital District, Flood Control District, Toll Road Authority, all county departments including the Sheriff and constables and the commissioners.
In the general election, many local races are decided by the presidential election and other national political races. The Harris County Attorney contest is no different. While an incumbent can fend off a challenge with sufficient funds and notoriety, it is difficult for a challenger to do the same. However, if one party does significantly better in Harris County this fall, the down ballot races such as this one will be affected.