The Dallas Morning News outed Republican Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison yesterday for making a rather uncharacteristic decision in one of their U.S. Attorney recommendations.
Robert Pitman, a Western District of Texas U.S. magistrate judge who is gay, was one of two people the GOP senators recommended for the San Antonio-based prosecutor’s post. The Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights advocacy group, gave Cornyn and Huthison a 0 percent rating on its report card of the 110th Congress.
It’s unclear whether Hutchison knew what she was getting into by endorsing Pitman. Her spokesperson, Jeff Sadosky, told the newspaper he wasn’t sure if she was aware of his sexual orientation. Cornyn spokesperson Kevin McLaughlin told The Morning News his boss knew Pitman was gay, but said it didn’t figure into the senator’s decision.
“A person’s sexuality has no bearing on his qualifications for a job. … It’s just not even remotely considered,” McLaughlin told the newspaper.
Some Texas social conservatives aren’t too happy about the revelation, which could make life difficult for Hutchison, who is running for Texas governor. Her opponent in the GOP primary in March is Republican Gov. Rick Perry, from the party’s dominant conservative wing.
Texas Home School Coalition president Tim Lambert, who is a Perry supporter, told The Morning News that recommending Pitman was “very unusual and disturbing.” He added: ”I suspect that a lot of Republican primary voters would find it interesting that Senator Hutchison would make that recommendation.”
Pitman, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, is well respected in the Texas legal community, according to the newspaper. A recent bar association poll ranked him as the most capable judge in Travis County, The Morning News said. However, it appears Michael McCrum, a San Antonio-based lawyer at the Thompson & Knight law firm, has the inside track on the job. McCrum was recommended by both the Republican senators and Texas’s House Democrats, making him a consensus choice.
The chairman of the Texas Democratic delegation in Congress, Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Austin, has been in a fierce battle with Cornyn for control of the recommendation process. President Barack Obama ultimately makes the nominations.