The Democratic candidate for Dallas
District Attorney is trying to focus the race on the issues he
thinks are important. Lawyer Craig Watkins wants to bring a fresh
approach to the office, to shake things up. But baggage continues to
weigh him down.
Four years ago, Craig Watkins came
from nowhere, and almost defeated the incumbent DA. This time, he's
getting more scrutiny.
Like his history of troubled
Individuals, companies, even the city
of Dallas have had to take Watkins to court, just to get paid.
Including the District Attorney's office, the very office he wishes
In 2000, Watkins, a defense lawyer,
had a contract with the DA to buy the names of jail inmates,
potential clients. But he got behind $7,675.
In 2004, the District Attorney had to
sue him, before he paid up.
?I would ask voters of this county to
look at me for who I am, and not any civil disputes that I've had in
the past,? says Watkins. ?They don't have anything to do with this
But he also has a history of late
state and federal business taxes, over several years, liens had to
be filed to press Watkins to pay. And recently, the IRS filed
license for back personal income tax, 3 years worth, $99,000.
Just before February's primary
Watkins insisted it was old news. ?All of them have been paid, All
of those issues have been resolved,? he said.
Nine months later the liens are still
in place and Watkins provided no proof to the contrary.
?I've had the courage to stand up to
the IRS, and fight them,? said Watkins at a debate Thursday night.
?And I'm going to have the courage to stand up for the citizens of
Dallas County that perpetrate against you.?
The DA's office has 400 lawyers and
staff and a budget of $34 million.
His opponent, Republican Toby Shook,
says fiscal responsibility matters. ?Obviously the District Attorney
has to be someone of integrity,? says Shook. ?Someone that uses very
good judgment, sound judgment, in these matters. I think that's
going to be important for voters.?
Another issue drawing attention:
Watkins approach to the law. His DWI defense site says: "The key in
picking a jury is to find people who believe it is alright to have a
drink and then drive.?
His felony defense site says: "I
enjoy manipulating the Government."
Shook is troubled by that attitude
towards the law. Watkins says, he'll be just as aggressive as the