Sunday, March 23, 2014

THE ELECTION RUNOFFS...and why I think the Democrats have a chance for statewide office in the coming election

Well, the recent election did not bear many surprises as far as I was concerned, with perhaps one possible exception.  I’m having trouble wrapping my head around the reason or purpose for the Legislature delaying a runoff election until the end of May.  Such a delay causes a real strain on candidates who will virtually have to mobilize their campaign teams twice in a short period of time.  This is to say nothing about what they’ll have to do after the runoff election in May in getting ready for the November general election. 

Runoff elections, contrary to popular belief, generally are like a completely new election, particularly when they are as far apart as the first primary and the runoff election for this cycle.   Too often political pundits try to add up those who voted for the losing candidates and figure where they will go in the runoff.  The fact is the runoff is a completely separate election, oftentimes made up of different participants.  Not everybody who votes in the initial primary will vote in the runoff election.  And often, even though the leading candidate in the first primary appears to have a big edge in the number of votes, people lose sight of the fact that the “also rans” are voting against the person leading in the first primary, which generally leads to upsets or the number two person winning the runoff election.

I’m still constantly amazed at the people who choose not to participate in elections--second only to those who do not take the trouble to at least get some information about the candidates available.

I’m particularly concerned about judicial elections.  While I confess to being a highly partisan Democrat, I could be persuaded to support judicial elections without labels.  People should look carefully at the qualifications of candidates for the office of judge.  A classic example of inattention of voters to a judicial race was Don Yarbrough, who got himself elected to the Texas Supreme Court and who was an out-and-out crook.  People should check as to whether or not a lawyer’s clients were satisfied with the representation they received from a candidate for judicial office.  It’s easy enough to check the recordsof the State Bar Association to see, for example, whether or not a candidatefor office has ever been disciplined for unethical or unprofessionalconduct.  Should you learn a candidate has been suspended for unethical practice or has not treated their clients right, it would logically follow that they probably would not make a very good judge. 

I was a little surprised at the Republican race for Lt. Governor.  Obviously, the incumbent Lt. Governor Dewhurst did not handle the situation very well.  He tried to out-conservative Dan Patrick instead of concentrating on material and important issues to the state.  In my opinion, Lt. Governor Dewhurst could have overcome his incumbency problems by simply pointing out the phoniness and far-right “wingism” of Dan Patrick.  If I were running against Patrick, I would begin with the fact that he’s so phoney that his name really wasn’t Dan Patrick until he had it changed for publicity purposes. 

The true test of whether or not Texas shall return to a two party state will be the Governor and Lt. Governor’s race.  Wendy Davis will be adequately financed to be competitive against Abbott, whose hypocrisy will show through.  The real issue is whether or not Davis can attract enough women to move from voting Republican to voting Democrat in the Texas general election.  Leticia Van de Putte is a savy politician, having served some time in the Texas House and Senate, and has the ability to stir folks with an inspirational speech--particularly when she is speaking to fellow Hispanics.  

Democrats in Texas have their work cut out for them as anyone can plainly see from noting that Abbott received over 1,000,000 votes to only slightly over 300,000 who cast votes in the Democratic primary.  As usual, the Democrats’ problem is not anti-votes, but no-votes.  Too many people choose to stay home and gripe about the antics of Rick Perry and his fellow travelers.  We can only hope this election cycle will produce more than a smattering of people interested enough in their government to exercise their right to vote. 

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