Daniel Hare, 39, met with volunteers Tuesday at the Waco Hippodrome, launching in earnest his campaign to become McLennan County’s next district attorney.
Hare is running as in independent in hopes of facing Republican nominee Barry Johnson, who defeated incumbent Abel Reyna last week.
Reyna mistakenly made his approach to prosecuting Twin Peaks defendants too complicated, said Hare, director of employer relations and engagement at the Baylor University Law School. The May 2015 shootout at Twin Peaks left nine bikers dead and dozens injured, and Reyna orchestrated the arrest of 177 people at the restaurant that day on charges of engaging in organized criminal activity.
“The District Attorney’s office should have determined who is most culpable in regard to criminal activity, gone after them hard and made their cases,” Hare said. “There were acts of violence, assaults, murders, but the person now holding this office began at the outer rings, with conspiracy. He started from the outside and worked his way in, and I believe that was backward. Go after the acts themselves and work from there.”
Hare said if he is elected, he will meet with the attorneys in the DA’s office “and put all the options on the table, start with a clean slate” regarding the Twin Peaks saga that has dominated headlines and the resources of the office since the deadly brawl took place.
“What will we do? I have a hunch there are people with good ideas who did not express them or had them shot down,” Hare said.
The DA’s office dismissed two more Twin Peaks cases on Monday, four days before a jury panel in the cases was scheduled to report to court.
Reyna has dismissed at least 26 Twin Peaks cases and refused 32 others that had not been indicted.
Asked about campaign strategy, Hare said he needs to get 500 signatures on a petition required to have his name placed on the November ballot. The signatures have to come from people who did not vote in either the Republican or Democratic primaries.
Seth Sutton filed to run as a Democrat but announced before the primary he had suspended his campaign. Sutton made the announcement too late to have his name pulled from the primary ballot, and he has refused to completely rule out restarting his campaign.
Hare said he and his backers will saturate social media to let voters know their options. He said he also will ask supporters to host house parties with 15 to 20 guests to build grassroots support for his candidacy.
Johnson beat Reyna by 20 percentage points, and Hare said the convincing margin of victory shows voters want a change.
“There will be no incumbent running, only two challengers, and the voters will decide the best option for McLennan County,” Hare said. “I don’t know if that moved my odds up or down.”
Hare is an Oklahoma City native who graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in finance and legal studies and a master’s degree in business administration. He moved to Waco in 2003 to work for the Baylor Bear Foundation while earning a law degree at Baylor. He later became an NCAA compliance officer at the University of Central Oklahoma, then athletics director at Western Oregon University.
Though he received a Baylor law degree, he does not practice law.
He said he views the job of district attorney as one in which he creates an environment for the 20-plus attorneys and support staff in the office to succeed.
“I’m sure (Reyna) thought he was going to personally try a lot of cases, but when you have 50 people looking to you for leadership, that is just not practical,” Hare said. “This office has so many constituents — the public, judges, the county commissioners. law enforcement — and can be more involved in problem solving. The McLennan County Jail is probably the largest provider of mental health services in the area.”
Hare smiled when reminded that Jim Wren, a Baylor University law professor and a colleague, is a brother-in-law of Johnson, his opponent who practiced civil law in the Dallas area before returning to his native Waco.
“We’ve had several discussions,” Hare said. “I have so much respect for Jim and I value our relationship, but he and I both agree there should be competition in the general election. The public should have a choice.”