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Cornyn defends Truncale support: Local Democrat, too, backs choice

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn on Wednesday defended the Senate’s affirmative, mostly party-line vote this week confirming attorney Michael Truncale to the federal bench in the Eastern District of Texas, despite some criticism from Truncale’s 2012 congressional campaign.

The Senate voted 49-46 Tuesday in favor of Truncale, a partner at the Beaumont law firm of Orgain Bell and Tucker, where he handled litigation on products liability and commercial disputes since 1985.

“I’ve known Michael Truncale for 30 years,” Cornyn said in a conference call with Texas reporters Wednesday. He said Truncale was rated “well qualified” by the American Bar Association.

Truncale was initially nominated in 2018 to replace Judge Ron Clark, who took senior status. His nomination languished in 2018 but was renewed this year. His nomination drew opposition from Democrats, who noted that during his lone, 2012 race for Congress in Texas’ 14th Congressional District, Truncale had called President Obama an “un-American imposter” for apologizing for past U.S. foreign policy. Truncale finished third in that race, which was won by U.S. Rep. Randy Weber.

He later explained to the Senate Judiciary Committee that his comment about Obama was made because he believed the president did not show enough overt patriotism. In voting no, U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R–Utah, told Washington reporters his vote was based on Truncale’s words during the congressional campaign.

Cornyn, though, said Truncale conceded his words on the 2012 political trail would be inappropriate had he been a judge rather than a congressional candidate.

During that campaign, Truncale expressed support for a balanced budget, took a pro-life stance and took standard GOP.

He opposed “liberalism and socialism,” Obamacare, tax increases and government expansion, according to political websites. Both Cornyn and Cruz voted in favor of the nominee.

Truncale’s nomination drew support from a local Democratic Party leader, too.

Jefferson County Democratic Party Chairman Cade Bernsen said of Truncale, “He’s a good selection. We have no reason to doubt he will be anything but fair and impartial.”

Bernsen said his father, a longtime Beaumont lawyer and a Truncale contemporary, has been on the same side of cases with Truncale and has opposed him in cases, too, but has “nothing but respect for him.”

“We were surprised the confirmation took so long,” the Democratic leader said.

Five senators were absent for Tuesday’s vote; U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy and John N. Kennedy, both Louisiana Republicans, were with President Trump in Hackberry, Louisiana, where the president spoke at the opening of the Cameron LNG plant about an hour east of Port Arthur.