Turn Out The Lights, The Party’s Over: District Attorney Kim Ogg Routed In Re-Election Bid In Houston

Turn Out The Lights, The Party’s Over: District Attorney Kim Ogg Routed In Re-Election Bid In Houston

Once the darling of billionaire donors who abandoned her after their criminal justice reform litmus test failed reality – after choosing criminal enforcement over criminal justice reform – District Attorney Kim Ogg was routed in the Democratic primary on Super Tuesday in Houston this week, garnering a mere 25% of the vote.  Opponent Sean Teare received 75% of the vote.

Before we go any further, we have to say, Madam District Attorney, this one’s for you:


District Attorney Ogg was quoted: “If doing my job cost me my job, then I leave with my head held high.”  The District Attorney pointed out she had made some “powerful enemies,” but had done so for the “right reasons.”  That is code for she had to be harder on crime than the people who donated to her wanted to her to be.  Simple as that.

Looking back at Ogg’s regime, as fellow passengers who lined up to embark on the bail reforms of Houston, in the long line at the White Star dock in Southampton, we certainly had low hopes of an Ogg administration some four years ago.  Her stance on bail reform, in particular, we thought for sure would be problematic.

Then something bigger happened—a federal judge in Houston overthrew the misdemeanor bail system causing a major upheaval, holding that we can’t have people not being able to afford their bail and actually to go to jail, nothing of which Ogg could do anything about.  Eventually, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit tossed all that out, saying there was simply too much federal judge meddling, something upon which all Houstonians certainly will willingly raise a glass to.

But all of that was far politically too late for District Attorney Ogg.  Crime dramatically increased for the first time in a generation, and changed in ways we or the law didn’t quite expect (think organized retail theft, for example).  The Bench also changed during the last election, with judges then giving defendants get out of jail free cards like napkins at a buffalo wing eating contest.  Not just in misdemeanors—in felonies too.

Indeed, at the end of the day, what this comes down to is that the public is mad about crime, and they are going to “throw the bums out of office,” with absolutely no disrespect to the District Attorney.  With these crime numbers and high negatives for incumbents in urban centers, we don’t think even Sam Houston wins that primary.

And so, District Attorney Ogg, with federally forced bail reform and a post-pandemic crime wave, like Captain Edward Smith, charted a course from the White Star Dock upon which she was doomed because the rest of the system was not going to follow the lead and attack crime.  When the time actually came to admit it happened and pivot towards aggressively doing something about it, that was the beginning of losing her seat over the issue.  Indeed, Ogg took the lead as District Attorney not to end bail but to end free bail for felons who are out on eight or more felony charges, of which we believe she testified, she was horrified to find out there were more than 35 in Houston when she began her crusade against that issue.  That was honorable, and we certainly gained a little respect for the soon-to-be-former District Attorney of America’s fourth largest city.  Attacking repeat hardened criminals slipping through the cracks under disguise as “indigent” is good public policy.

But none of that mattered—crime was not a problem before it and was all of a sudden a huge problem when we collectively woke up from our pandemic-nap, sort of like our little problem of being illegally invaded by a basketball arena full of people every day further south that all of sudden has become a national emergency.

Let’s be fair, however, in saying that District Attorney Ogg wasn’t just re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.  She was trying to fix the breach, that, unfortunately, turned out to be a hopeless job.  The entire system of criminal justice in Houston has broken down.  She lost her seat over it.  The prosecutor, however, was trying to prosecute.  We have to say that.  Her successor now must take the helm with the highest crime in a generation and with an angry public looking for action.  We hope they are ready to deliver and have the support of all the officials they will need to come together, because the public is done putting up with crime.

We can only hope the future is brighter in Houston, a great American City, and the new public officials will focus on the basics of crime: certainty of getting caught and swiftness of punishment.  In other words, Don’t Mess with Texas and if you do, it won’t be good.  As for District Attorney Ogg, like an old sailor, we do have to respect the fact that the captain went down with the ship.

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