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DALLAS COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – The top elected law enforcement official in Dallas County could find himself in the tightest race Tuesday, despite having watched  Dallas county turn decidedly Democrat eight years ago.

District Attorney Craig Watkins’ re-election bid could hinge on turnout from his Southern Dallas voter base.

The irony of that political assessment by analysts is based on a view that Watkins may be the only Democrat in Dallas County in trouble. The DA is seeking his 3rd term.

Watkins has gone from national figure, the advocate for exonerating men imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit, to a defender of actions that question his ethics and leadership.

Watkins highlights his building specialized units, Elderly Abuse, Community Protection that partners with DISD and others as indicators of maintaining public trust and confidence for the DA’s office under his eight years.

But critics point to his use of his position to handle personal issues, as a sign for change. He used DA office forfeiture funds to settle a car accident.

But straight-ticket voting may be the key for Watkins, along with strong appeal in Southern Dallas.

His opponent is former judge and Democrat, now Republican Susan Hawk.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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