Thursday, February 20, 2014

Primarily Speaking, Part I

trying to organize the avalanche of election info
Texas is early, as states go, holding the state primary election March 4th. (Early voting started Tuesday, February 18th.) Because this is a conservative state, most of the decisions about who will be our elected officials will take place in this primary election. Yet in a typical primary election only 10% of registered voters turn out.

To put a positive spin on that, if you’re a well-informed voter, you get a bigger voice by voting in the primary.
The challenge is in being a well-informed voter. I work pretty hard at it. I know it’s hard to know all the candidates for all the offices, and discern who’s telling the truth vs. who’s saying what needs to be said to get elected. We don’t even all have the same definition of conservative, although an understanding of the US Constitution and the philosophy behind it is a good starting point.
What I’m doing here is presenting my thought process so far. Mostly I’ve decided who I’m voting for, but in some cases I hesitate to call that an endorsement; I call it my best answer at this point on the upcoming exam. I plan to vote on voting day, rather than early, so I reserve the right to change my mind. But I’m hoping that sharing what I know will help local people add data to their decisions, and the process of it will help voters in other places make good choices.
I’ve used a number of resources. A good starting place is a sample ballot. I get mine at the county site  You can choose either party there, but I’m only dealing with the GOP ballot, where I’ve done research. (Good luck finding a Constitutional conservative on the democrat ballot anyway—kind of a useless exercise. You may find an occasional worthwhile libertarian candidate, but they choose candidates by convention, rather than primary vote.)
For every candidate, you can do an online search for their candidacy website, to learn how they’re presenting themselves. Much of my research has consisted of meeting and hearing from candidates in person at various forums: my local Tea Party meetings, King Street Patriots debates and forums. And also comparing endorsement lists from various groups (all claiming to be conservative) that have vetted the candidates, and also some individuals whose opinions I value who have shared their views with friends. Among these is a local group called Conservative Coalition of Harris County (CCHC PAC). These are grassroots individuals, several of them longtime friends of mine. They spend their own time vetting the candidates, with a combination of questionnaire, in-person interviews, and online research. They do a secret ballot, and if a candidate receives 70% or more of the panel vote, they endorse. They are not funded by any outside sources, so candidates cannot influence with donations; I guess that is possible with other organizations.
Other organizations whose endorsements I look at (as data, not necessarily as a direction to follow) are Texas Conservative Review, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, and Houston Realty Business Coalition. I’m sure I’ve received others in my email inbox, but I have to limit the avalanche of info somewhere as I set myself down to make decisions.
For judge races, I always take into account recommendations from some friends in the county DA’s office, and I listen to some of the lawyers who attend our Tea Party regularly. Also, a neighboring precinct judge shares her recommendations with me.
So, here we go, mainly from the top down.
US Senate:
Besides incumbent John Cornyn, there are seven other GOP candidates (plus some libertarians you won’t see on this ballot). People in other states might not understand our discontent with the powerful and apparently conservative senior senator from Texas. But there is some friction in Washington between his get-along-with-the-enemy approach and Ted Cruz’s take-the-right-position-and-let-things-fall-where-they-may approach. Cruz is more of a Constitutional, principled conservative than Cornyn. That doesn’t mean Cornyn is always wrong, or that Cruz’s approach will always accomplish the best ends. But we need more bravery and principle from our leaders, and it has appeared to us that Cornyn has worked behind the scenes to undermine Cruz’s efforts. I don’t know what is true. I expect Cornyn will win the primary, without a runoff. But in this primary I am willing to send a message to Cornyn that he ought to pay more attention to us Texans. So then the decision in the primary is, which alternative?  

Reid Reasor came to our last Tea Party meeting. I liked him. Linda Vega came last month. There are things I liked about her, but I wasn’t persuaded she was US Senate material yet. I’ve met Steve Stockman and Dwayne Stovall. People have mentioned good things about Chris Mapp. So, I’m still undecided, but I do think I’m going to do a protest vote in this primary, and then support the republican candidate.

I’m for Greg Abbott. Another candidate I’ve met is Lisa Fritsch, who was running against Abbott with an outsider vs. insider campaign. I didn’t buy it. But I liked her. I wish she were running for something else where I could support her. I’m glad to be able to vote for Greg Abbott. All of my sources are unanimous in supporting him. Sometime after the primary I’ll compare and contrast him with the democrat challenger, Wendy Davis, which should be an amusing exercise.

Lieutenant Governor:
I wrote about this race a few weeks ago. I’m for Dan Patrick, as are my sources, unanimously. But this race shows the deep bench of conservative leaders in Texas. As the campaign continues, I see more attacks, particularly from Jerry Patterson toward Dan Patrick—old and implied with lack of fact, and it’s harming Patterson in my view more than Patrick. The race is really between Patrick and Dewhurst, so Patterson’s attacks are going to make it awkward either way for Patterson.

Attorney General:
I’ve been truly undecided on this race. We met Barry Smitherman some months ago at the tea Party, but he was likable but unremarkable in a state full of conservatives. Ken Paxton came to our meeting last week, and we had a great little conversation about Constitutional principles, and about some inside politics. Paxton ran, last term, against the “moderate” Texas House Speaker Strauss—because someone had to, and he couldn’t find someone else willing. He was punished by having his district split—he won anyway and recruited a number of new conservative representatives around him. He also got removed from all committee leadership, and was the only representative placed on two committees led by democrats. In addition, any amendments he put forth on the floor were ruled not germane, even when they clearly were. But rather than complain, he says that’s what we face politically, and the solution is to get more conservatives elected. He seems to understand the attorney general position well, and while I think Greg Abbott’s shoes will be difficult to fill, I’m ready to give Paxton my vote. CCHC supported him with 60% of their vote (not enough for an endorsement; Smitherman got the other 40%). TFR also supported them. Smitherman is supported by TCR, HRBC, and my precinct chair friend (I’ll refer to her as PC).

This is like a state treasurer position—it’s accounting. It’s an open seat, with retirement of Susan Combs, who has been quite good. There are a few things Debra Medina says that I agree with; she’s more libertarian than traditional conservative, however, and there always seems to come a point where we diverge. Glenn Hegar was a state senator, whose office we visited last term. I like him, and he seems quite capable. He gets the support of CCHC (85%), TFR, and PC. Harvey Hilderbran got TCR’s endorsement.

Land Commissioner:
I’m still wavering on this race. George P. Bush is the son of Florida Governor Jeb Bush, grandson of George H. W. Bush, nephew of George W. Bush. It’s hard to say how much the name either hurts or helps. In his own right, he seems fairly capable. I know less about his opponent David Watts. CCHC gives 55% support to Watts. TCR, HRBC, and PC all support Bush. I am leaning toward Bush for now.

Commissioner of Agriculture:
We met Eric Opiela some time back at our Tea Party. I liked him, but I disagreed with him on the use of the Rainy Day fund for water infrastructure. He supported his argument well, and a number of people agreed with him, including Dan Patrick. I know less about the other candidates. But I’m taking a longer look at Sid Miller, who got 90% support from CCHC, as well as TFR and PC. Tommy Merritt got the endorsement of TCR. Because of the influence of friends, chances are I will go with Sid Miller.

Railroad Commissioner:
This position has a traditional name but actually has nothing to do with railroads, and everything to do with energy resources, such as oil and gas. We’ve had Wayne Christian and Ryan Sitton at our Tea Party. I’m leaning toward Wayne Christian. He also got 80% support from CCHC. But all the others got some support. TCR supports Malachi Boyuls. HRBC supports Ryann Sitton. And PC supports Becky Berger.

So far we’ve only gotten through statewide races, and even those not including judges. So this is going to take another post. So tomorrow we’ll work through the local and judicial races.



1 comment:

  1. Extremely helpful!! My research is closely aligned with yours!! Thank you so much!! Diana Z, Cypress