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HOUSTON A bitterly fought campaign that threw courthouse politics into the ballot box has unseated the district attorney of the largest county in Texas.

Pat Lykos, a one-term incumbent reviled by her adversaries, lost the Republican primary to a former prosecutor and judge named Mike Anderson.

The wide margin of victory surprised even many of Lykos opponents who had predicted the outcome. Anderson carried almost two-thirds of the vote, 63 percent, compared to Lykos 37 percent.

The verdict is in and I accept it, Lykos said during a live interview with KHOU 11 News reporter Brad Woodard late Tuesday night.

The race had evolved into a referendum on Lykos management style and her lenient policies toward first time drunk drivers and minor drug offenders. During her first weeks in office, many longtime prosecutors left the DA s office. Indeed, dozens of past and present prosecutors supported Anderson and showed up at his election night victory party.

Lykos lambasted the court decisions that scheduled the Texas Primary the day after a holiday, which dropped the traditionally low voter turnout even lower. But she admitted a host of other factors led to her defeat, including a politically charged grand jury investigation into her office that generated no indictments but produced a steady stream of news stories that raised questions about her administration.

I have to confess I probably ran a poor campaign, Lykos said. Rather than combating all of the accusations against me, I continued working and reforming the office, transforming it into one of the best in the country.

Lykos came into office under unusual circumstances. In 2008, a series of investigative reports from KHOU 11 News revealed that Chuck Rosenthal, who was then district attorney, had forwarded a number of racist and sexist emails. Republican party leaders pressured Rosenthal to give up his office and approached Lykos, who had run against Rosenthal a decade earlier, to run again.

In the 2008 Republican primary, Lykos defeated Kelly Siegler, a prosecutor who was famous for her courtroom theatrics but also harmed by her association with Rosenthal. In November, Lykos won the general election, defeating a well-known African-American candidate, former Houston police chief C.O. Bradford, on a night when Barack Obama had driven black voter turnout to historic highs.

Lykos quickly made enemies around the courthouse, firing and chasing away experienced prosecutors. She also introduced a series of reforms that earned the ire of law enforcement unions, extending leniency to first time DWI offenders and people caught with trace amounts of cocaine.

Her adversaries lined up behind Anderson, a former prosecutor and judge whose tough-talking style helped make him an attractive alternative for Republican primary voters. His wife, Devon, is also a former judge and prosecutor whose forceful closing argument helped send serial killer Angel Resendiz Ramirez to death row.

While Lykos admitted she had run a poor campaign, Anderson s election effort was managed by a tough and wily GOP political consultant named Allen Blakemore, who had previously managed Rosenthal s successful district attorney race against Lykos in 2000.

Now Anderson will face Democrat Lloyd Wayne Oliver in the November general election.
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