FORT WORTH -- The big crowd packing the steps of the majestic Tarrant County Courthouse Thursday morning was a sign of a political fight brewing for next year’s Republican primary for district attorney.
"I present to you my friend, Sharen Wilson," Sheriff Dee Anderson said, to a wave of applause.
He didn't just introduce Judge Sharen Wilson, he lit the fuse on what promises to be an unusually volatile fight for Tarrant County district attorney.
"I loved serving as judge, and I was proud to be known as the toughest judge in Tarrant County," Wilson said.
She ended 23 years on the bench to launch her campaign on the old courthouse steps. Known for a sharp mind and cutting comments to lawyers, she targeted current DA Joe Shannon.
"The people of Tarrant County know we need a new district attorney who comes from outside the ranks of the current scandal-plagued office," she said.
She hammered the word “scandal” like a gavel.
"Obviously you know it's scandal-ridden at this time," she said.
Shannon was appointed to the job after the death of legendary District Attorney Tim Curry, then got elected in 2010.
Then, the county settled a sexual harassment suit against him for $375,000. Shannon has said he never endorsed that settlement.
He hasn't said whether he'll run again, but insiders don't expect him to enter the race.
However, one of his top assistants, former District Judge Bob Gill, is running. He served five terms, also as a Republican. Gill’s campaign kick-off fundraiser was set for Thursday night, just a few hours after Wilson’s event.
Longtime defense attorney Wes Ball and former prosecutor George Mackey are also in the race.