Monday, February 26, 2018

Primary Matters, Part I

Here in Texas, early voting is already underway for the Primary election. As I’ve said before, if you want to really have an effect, choose the candidates by voting in the Primary.
The Harris County sample ballot
available here

It’s not a big presidential election year, but there’s still quite a lot going on. Among them, for me, is the congressional race for retiring Congressman Ted Poe’s seat. There are nine GOP candidates, so I’ve spent a fair amount of energy trying to decide on that.

I need to go through the whole ballot to prepare myself to vote. And friends have begun asking me for my recommendations. So that is my goal for today and tomorrow.

There are quick ways and longer ways. I’m doing it mostly the long way, with explanations for my decisions. This looks like it is going to take three posts. I’ll try to do them on consecutive days (or even two in a day, if I get done). And I’ll also do the short way: I intend to provide a chart of all my choices in the end. Along the way, I highlight the names of candidates I’m endorsing.

·         Part I will cover the contested statewide races (except judicial).
·         Part II will cover the Congressional District 2 race.
·         Part III will cover the judicial races, any other county races, and the propositions.

US Senator from Texas

Ted Cruz is running for his second term as the junior Senator from Texas. I don’t know a single Republican not supporting him. There are primary challengers, but I have received zero contact from them—not a mailer, not an email. Nothing. I don’t know their purpose in running, but it doesn’t seem even quixotic; it seems insincere and pointless.

Ted Cruz has been doing what we here in Texas have asked him to do. I’d give him a 99+% approval rating—and I can’t think of anything in that imperfect 1%.


I endorsed Governor Greg Abbott and volunteered to help with his campaign way last July. He has two primary challengers, but I have heard nothing from either. One of them has changed his first name to (all capital letters) SECEDE. This cannot be a serious challenge to our very effective governor.

Lieutenant Governor

Dan Patrick was our state senator prior to his run for Lieutenant Governor. We miss having ready access to him, but he’s been doing a good job. He helped the legislative session go much better than it might have, considering the stonewalling caused by the House Speaker. So, again, I endorse Dan Patrick.

Commissioner of the General Land Office

There has been a tough campaign against incumbent George P. Bush. Much of it revolves around the Alamo. Here’s what I know. I hesitated last time around to vote for yet another Bush (George P. is the son of Jeb Bush, a nephew of George W. and grandson of George H. W.), because I don’t like the idea of ruling families. But George P. Bush was trained and qualified for this specific job, so I voted for him. As far as I’ve seen, he doesn’t have other political aspirations. Since his election, I have followed both the Land Office and the Alamo projects, mainly through a Facebook friend, Bryan Preston—former employee of Laura Ingraham, and was associated with local force Not On This Watch—who went to work for the Land Office.

When Jerry Patterson and others started complaining about “Reimagine the Alamo,” and claiming that they would ruin our history, and take away the importance of the Battle of the Alamo, I looked at the Land Office for original sources to verify. I could not find a single complaint that was valid. And I looked through at least two candidates’ plans for what they would do differently—which, to my view, were essentially point-by-point what the Land Office is doing and has planned to do all along.

I ran all of this past my son, Political Sphere, who has a background to understand some Land Office duties, and he found the same thing I did. So did people he has talked with about the issue. There is no threat to the Alamo. What will happen—and which everyone seems to agree should happen—is an annexation of the property directly in front of the Alamo, including businesses across the street, enlarging the footprint of the landmark, so that they can prevent both traffic and protests from getting in the way of tourists who want to enjoy the iconic front view of the Alamo. 

Here is candidate Rick Range’s “Save the Alamo” campaign site:

“Save the Alamo” [] is alternatively the Facebook page  of the General Land Office about the preservation projects of the Alamo. 

Here is a piece by George P. Bush from November about the Alamo projects:  . He summarizes the master plan with these three purposes: “preserve the Alamo, close the street to restore reverence, and build the world’s largest museum dedicated to the Battle of the Alamo and the Texas Revolution.” This is all designed to preserve and protect our Alamo, and to make a better experience for visitors. 

Here’s a one-minute video from last October:

None of the challengers has the expertise in Land Office work that George P. Bush has. It may be that they are just trying to oust a person where they think their might be an opening for their own careers. I watched a forum where all three opponents spoke, and they seemed to agree that Texas was in for disaster if they couldn’t somehow oust Bush. I kept waiting for facts; there were none forthcoming.

Patterson ran against Dan Patrick last time, for Lieutenant Governor. The main race was between Patrick and Dewhurst, but Patterson attacked from the sides, with innuendo and implication rather than facts. It was unseemly, and while I liked many things he said that were conservative, he lost my respect in that race. So this time, again finding so many accusations that just aren’t true, I doubt I will ever be able to support Patterson for dogcatcher.

Commissioner of Agriculture

There are two challengers to Sid Miller as Ag Commissioner. I know less about this position, but I don’t know of any particular complaints about the job Sid Miller is doing. I looked to advice from friends last time and voted for Miller. Friends who do a fair amount of work to figure these things out are recommending him again. So I’ll vote for him again.

Railroad Commissioner

This job isn’t really about railroads; it’s about energy, including especially oil & gas. There are three commissioners, whose terms come up at alternate times. I supported Christi Craddick last time around. I’ve seen a couple of slates that measure her as less conservative than some. But the issues she’s less conservative on are unrelated to her energy-related job. So I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and vote for her again.


  1. I disagree with your position on the propositions. While generally they are harmless and certainly are non-binding, I will be voting no on at least two that I feel are harmful.

    First, I will vote no on Proposition 1. At this moment, Texas is already among the highest rates when it comes to sales/consumption tax. To completely replace the property tax system with sales tax would be prohibitively expensive and cause tourism to decrease dramatically as it would be levied on anyone who purchased anything in Texas. So even though this is pie in the sky thinking, it would be very harmful to the Texas economy as businesses include the possibility in the matrix they use to decide where to locate.

    Second, I will be voting no on Proposition 10. This is the same bad proposition that was already floated through the legislature at the last session. If it were to win, it might gain enough support to pass in the next session. I don't like how quickly property taxes increase either, but seeing it from the side of County government, more and more responsibilities get mandated and delegated to Counties by the State each legislative session, as the leegislature pulls back funding for more and more things. Just take indigent defense as an example. The legislature has turned funding of indigent defense from a State issue to a local issue. Currently, they only provide about 10% of the funding needed in the county I work for. If this proposition passes I believe you will inevitably see a number of counties in Texas file for bankruptcy as they become unable to cover even the required services with the taxes they are limited to.

  2. Those were the very two I was wondering about. Wish I'd had time to go through the list with you ahead of time. Other than you, I didn't know anyone against those issues, so I couldn't talk it through.