In Houston, the country’s fourth-largest city, the feud between District Attorney Kim Ogg and her own party has reached a boiling point.
On Monday, more than 60 Democratic Party leaders submitted a resolution to formally condemn Ogg’s role in weakening voter rights and attacking criminal justice reform, and her tacit approval of Republican voter-suppression laws. The move also comes after reports of Ogg using her power to investigate members of her own party over personal feuds.
“The primary mission of the Harris County Democratic Party is to elect Democrats who support the U.S. Constitution, share our values, and are willing to stand up against extremist Republicans,” the resolution penned by local precinct chairs begins. But Ogg has “stood silent” on Republican efforts to squeeze the life out of Harris County’s blue voting bloc, going so far as to bring criminal charges against a 64-year-old Black man for voting while on parole (the charges were quickly thrown out), and standing by while the Texas Rangers—an agency with a sordid history—opened a criminal investigation against election workers based on “debunked conspiracy theories and outright lies invented and promoted by Republican Party officials.”
Ogg has also used her position to attack political opponents with onerous court cases, effectively punishing them for challenging her. In mid-September, a county court-at-law judge told the Houston Chronicle that he warned colleagues not to cross her: “If you piss her off, you’re going to a grand jury and you may or may not be indicted.” In 2022, Ogg indicted three ex-staffers of Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, a young progressive in charge of the local Commissioners Court, for steering $11 million in Covid-19 vaccine outreach funds to a politically connected vendor, but since then the case has hung in limbo. Hidalgo denies the charges, and no trial date has been set.
Previously a Republican, Ogg ran as a Democrat in 2016 promising reforms to fix the broken cash bail system, decriminalize drug offenses, and create “a system that doesn’t oppress the poor.” She quickly changed her tune, accepting thousands in campaign contributions from the local bail bond industry while claiming that progressives were trying to “defund” her department. In 2022, she attempted to have a self-described democratic socialist judge removed from the bench due to his criticism of the criminal justice system and his hesitancy to accept plea bargains, which often lock up low-income defendants for crimes they have not committed. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Ogg also noted she would prosecute those who violate Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s abortion ban, among the most extreme in the country, on a “case by case basis.”
The precinct chairs’ resolution is an early step toward the local party distancing itself from Ogg in the lead-up to her March 2024 primary, signaling that they’re not afraid of her any longer and are ready to fight.
It “says out loud what a majority of Democrats in Harris County have become increasingly alarmed about,” precinct chair Cameron Campbell said in a statement. “Her divisive bullying and appalling abuse endangers our community and undermines our civil rights.”