As people are still recovering from the polarized election of 2016, it may be shocking that elections are again on the horizon. If you do not vote in these midterm elections, you will not be in the minority. In the last midterm elections during 2014, voter turnout was 35.9% (in contrast to the 60% turnout rate during the 2016 election).
However, these elections bear far more impact on your daily life than the national elections that control the majority of media coverage. Since we live in Texas, we yield a greater voice in how our state government operates as Texas is a plural executive state. This means that the powers of the executive branch are dispersed among multiple independent officials that wield power separately from one another. While these officials may run on similar platforms and for the same party, their campaigns and jurisdictions are not related.
Examples of these positions, which we all vote for, are Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller of Public Accounts, Commissioner of the General Land Office, Commissioner of Agriculture, and Railroad Commissioner. Rather than being nominated by a governor to serve in his or her cabinet, we all get a say in the ballot box.
Furthermore, there are multiple other offices Texas residents get to vote for depending on your district. Texas has a bicameral legislature made up of 150 representatives in the House, who serve two-year terms, and 31 senators in the Senate, who serve 4-year terms. Everyone will be able to vote for who they send to the House for another 2 years, and half the districts will vote for their senator.
Additionally, Texas residents will be voting for Texas Supreme Court Justices, Presiding Judges, Judges for the Court of Criminal Appeals, members for the State Board of Education, Justices for the 5th Court of Appeals, District Judges, Family District Judges, Criminal District Judges, the Criminal District Attorney, County Judges, County Probate Judges, the Sheriff, County Commissioners, Constables, Justices of the Peace, and County Chairmen.
Now, you may be asking yourself if you are registered, and whether or not you are registered as a Democrat or Republican. To check if you are registered, there is a link down below. As for the second question, the answer is no. When you registered, you did not have to register as either a Democrat or Republican. Texas has “semi-open” elections. This means that you do not register and affiliate with one specific party. Instead, you can only vote in one party’s primaries, and that same party’s runoffs.
The election occurring on March 6th is a primary, which means you will vote on either the Democratic or Republican ticket to see which candidate will run on November 6th of this year for your party (or on May 22nd in the runoffs if no candidate wins a majority).
After you vote for all the candidate you want, you will be able to vote yes or no on 11-12 propositions. For Republicans, these include yes or no questions like:
Yes or No on 11-12 propositions (Republican)
“Texas should replace the property tax system with an appropriate consumption tax equivalent.”
“I believe abortion should be abolished in Texas”
“Voter fraud should be a felony in Texas to help ensure fair elections”
“Tax dollars should not be used to fund the building of stadiums for professional or semi-professional sports teams.”
Democrats will be asked similar yes or no questions like:
Yes or No on 11-12 propositions (Democrat)
“Should everyone in Texas have a right to healthcare, guaranteed by a universal, quality Medicare-for-all system?”
“Should everyone in Texas have the right to economic security, where all workers have earned paid family and sick leave and a living wage that respects their hard work?”
“Should there be a just and fair comprehensive immigration reform solution that includes an earned path to citizenship for law-abiding immigrants and their children, keeps families together, protects DREAMers, and provides workforce solutions for businesses?”
Do not be confused, you are not voting on these issues yourself. Specific parties ask these ballot propositions during the primaries because it helps them determine what to put into the party’s platform for the general election. But, it is still important to look over the propositions for an informed decision on the issues you find important. To find a sample ballot customized to your location and district, there is a link down below.
Finally, you may be wondering: What do all these positions mean? Why are they important? Who is running? What are their platforms? No need to worry, here is some information with links to the general state elections everyone will vote for, regardless of their district.
Furthermore, for the sake of brevity and due to the demographic composition of the school, I will be mostly reviewing the Republican candidates for the primaries. During the mock 2016 election, the school voted overwhelmingly Republican, and as you can only vote in one primary, the statistics speak for themselves. However, I will include links for those interested in finding out more information on the Democratic candidates.
- Signs and vetoes bills passed by the legislative branch
- Pardons and commutes sentences
- The only person that can call the legislative branch into special session (under the Texas Constitution, the legislative branch only convenes for 140 calendar days after the second Tuesday of January in odd number years)
- Acts as Commander and Chief of Texas’ military forces
- Delivers his own version of the state of the union
- Accounts for all state money and estimates the amount of money required in the budget
- Declares special elections in the event of absences
- Executes laws
- Deals with matters between other states and the United States
- Serves a 4-year term
Texas Governor Greg Abbott seeks reelection among 3 candidates in the Republican primaries, while the Democrats will be voting between 9 candidates.
Before taking office, he was the longest-serving Attorney General in Texas history and a Justice on the Texas Supreme Court. During his first term in office, Governor Abbott has led the legislator through a strong conservative agenda, defending constitutional liberties. One of his most notable accomplishments includes signing the largest tax cut in Texas history (permanently lowering the business franchise tax by 25%). His priorities include furthering economic growth and job creation, protecting individual liberties (especially 2nd amendment rights and freedom of religion), increasing governmental transparency, improving Texas education, and promoting safety in Texas.
Larry SECEDE Kilgore – is an odd character in Texas politics; however, no one can deny his commitment. A fervent secessionist, Kilgore legally changed his name to “SECEDE” in 2012. A military vet and Bible-believing Christian, he actively protests against abortion in the United States and traveled around China to distribute and evangelize the Bible. His platform includes first and foremost, seceding from the United States. Also, he wants to ban all abortions, get rid of all welfare programs, end social security, completely shut down all prisons, and enforce “biblical law.” It is of note that he received 226,649 votes in the 2008 Republican primary and 20,000 votes in the 2014 Republican primary against Greg Abbott.
Barbara Krueger – from Plano is on the Republican ticket currently running for governor. Not much is known about her. She is a retired high school chemistry teacher and possesses no official website. After filing, she wrote on Facebook: “People of God rise up! We can create a spiritual revolution in Texas! Let’s make Texas the prototype for America! The radical Islamic extremist want to wipe us out! Let us stand for God’s will & let our voices ring out! Let freedom ring!”
The 9 candidates running in the Democratic primary have been seeking to distinguish themselves from one another. They have recently made air-time debating tighter gun restrictions in the aftermath of Parkland. More information is available below.
Greg Abbott: https://www.gregabbott.com/bio/
Larry SECEDE Kilgore: http://secedekilgore.com/home
Barbara Krueger: no website
Lupe Valdez: https://www.lupevaldez.com/
Tom Wakely: https://www.texansfortom.com/
Adrian Ocegueda: https://www.texasreason.com/
James Jolly Clark: https://www.txpta.org/questionnaire-clark
Jeffrey Payne: http://www.jeffrey4texas.com/
Cedric Davis, Sr.: http://www.mayorcedricdavis4txgov.org/
Andrew White: https://www.andrewwhite.com/
Joe Mumbach: http://www.joefortexas.us/
Additional information about all the candidates:
The Lieutenant Governor:
- Serves as President of the Senate, presiding over that body (however, he acts more like the United States’ Speaker of the House rather than the Vice-President in terms of power)
- Is the second most important position in Texas’ executive
- Appoints senate committees and committee chairs
- Refers legislation to the committees
- Maintains order during floor debate, rules on procedural matters, and holds the power to recognize members who wish to speak
- Determines which bills will be considered on the floor and get a vote
- Breaks ties
- Bridges the gap between both the executive and legislative branch
- Assumes the powers and duties of the Governor when he is unable to serve or absent
- Signs all bills and resolutions
- Sits as a member on boards in both branches of government
- Serves a 4-year term
Currently, the Lieutenant Governor is Dan Patrick. He is running against one other Republican in the primaries.
Dan Patrick – presides over a conservative agenda and helps pass legislation to increase border security, cut taxes (mentioned earlier), provide property tax relief, and continue education reforms. He initiated a program to provide all police officers with bulletproof vests that can withstand high caliber gunfire. He has been a strong advocate for the pro-life cause and against infringements of our 2nd Amendment rights.
Scott Milder – has received endorsements from the Houston Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the San Antonio Express-News. A businessman and the founder of a nonprofit group that benefits Texas education, Milder seeks to “Get the Texas Senate Back to Business” and “Return to Normalcy.” He opposed Dan Patrick’s lack of attention to traditional conservatism and impose policy to move our state forward economically. He has served on the Rockwall City Council for two terms. He has a 10 step plan to address public education and wants to keep gun laws the way they are. His priorities include eliminating waste from the budget, delivering homeowners tax relief, and focus on civic responsibility rather than political bickering and partisan power games.
For Democrats, the two candidates are Michael Cooper and Mike Collier. More information is here:
Dan Patrick: https://www.danpatrick.org/meet-dan/
Scott Milder: https://www.scottmilder4txlg.com/
Michael Cooper: https://www.vote4coopertexas.com/
Mike Collier: https://www.collierfortexas.com/
Additional information about all the candidates:
Attorney General of Texas
The candidates for both parties run unopposed for the primary season. Ken Paxton is on the Republican ticket and Justin Nelson is running for the Democrats. I will include their websites and would still like to talk about the importance of the position. This position and Ken Paxton have been in the news recently as he is leading a lawsuit against the federal government on the constitutionality of Obamacare.
So, during the four-year term, the Attorney General of Texas:
- Defends the laws and Texas Constitution
- Represents the state in litigation
- Approves public bond issues
- Serves as legal counsel to all boards and agencies of state government
- Issues legal opinions when prompted by the governor and other state officials
- Defends challenges to state laws and suits against the state
- Files civil lawsuits upon referral by other state agencies
- Sometimes leads criminal prosecutions
- Enforces the collection of court-ordered child support
- Administers the Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund
Justin Nelson: http://nelsonfortexas.com/
Comptroller of Public Accounts
The Comptroller of Public Accounts:
- Serves as the state’s chief financial officer, tax collector, accountant, revenue estimator, and treasurer for all of the state government
- Keeps accounts of state funds
- Conducts research and statistics for estimating revenue
- Submits financial reports to the governor and legislature about the previous fiscal year, outstanding appropriations, and estimates of anticipated revenue
- Audits 28 state taxes
- Provides taxpayer information to the public
- Prepares economic forecasts
- Processes tax returns and license applications
- Collects revenue
- Handles claims against the state
- Operates on a $155 million budget with 2,800 employees
- Serves a 4-year term
In the Republican Caucus, Glenn Hegar runs unopposed. For Democrats, they will be deciding between Joi Chevalier and Tim Mahoney.
Glenn Hegar: https://comptroller.texas.gov/about/bio.php
Joi Chevalier: https://www.joifortexas.com/
Tim Mahoney: http://www.tim4comptroller.com/
Commissioner of the General Land Office
The Commissioner of the General Land Office:
- Manages state lands
- Operates the Alamo
- Helps Texans recovering from natural disasters
- Helps fund Texas Public Education through the Permanent School Fund
- Provide benefits to Texas Veterans
- Manages the vast Texas Coast
- Runs the oldest state agency in Texas
- Serves a 4-year term
George P. Bush – is running as the incumbent in a contentious race this year. He is the son of 2016 Presidential Candidate Jeb Bush. George P. Bush has been under fire. This race has been dealing mostly with issues concerning the Alamo. Many Texans were outraged at renovation plans coming out Bush’s office in 2017. He promised to modernize the site and add a museum, upsetting many Texans who believe it should just remain a sacred, untainted area.
Bush ran in 2014 when Jerry Patterson voluntarily stepped down to unsuccessfully run for Lieutenant Governor. Many feel that Bush is only using the position as a stepping stool to eventually run for a higher office, continuing the Bush political dynasty. Every commissioner since 1971 has run for another mandate after their time there. It is easy to create a significant legacy and make progress in the position, making it a desired spot for young politicians. However, this has become an issue of the campaign.
Jerry Patterson – returns to try and reclaim his spot against George P. Bush. Candidates Rick Range and Davey Edwards are seeking to bring the position back to its roots with strong qualifications. For example, Davey Edwards has both a masters and a doctorate degree in geoscience surveying, while Rick Range is an Alamo historian and member on the Alamo Board. Bush has already enacted some great conservative policy. He cut down the size of his department, and consequently its budget. He took in more money than he spent, adding an even larger surplus to the Permanent School Fund.
This election will be interesting to see what issues Texans are concerned most about in this department. Especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the Commissioner will be important in the recovery efforts. From education to disaster relief to land surveying to Veteran affairs to the future of the Alamo, the General Land Use Commissioner wields a lot of power and deserves some research before entering the polls.
Jerry Patterson: https://www.votepatterson.com/
Rick Range: https://rickrange.us/
Davey Edwards: http://daveyfortexas.com/
George P. Bush: https://www.georgepfortexas.org/
Tex Morgan: https://votetexmorgan.com/
Miguel Suazo: https://www.miguelsuazo.org/media/2018/1/10/why-im-running
Commissioner of Agriculture:
The Commissioner of Agriculture:
- Promotes agriculture production
- Helps farmers and ranchers through loan guarantees
- Regulates different industries like markets, organic food suppliers, and gas stations
- Protects consumers
- Improves economic development
- Promotes healthy living
- Creates regulatory and marketing initiatives
- Offers infrastructure grants to rural communities
- Serves a 4-year term
As of the end of February, this race has spent $2 million collectively. The first-term incumbent Sid Miller seeks re-election to continue pursuing his agenda. An avid Trump supporter from the start, Miller seeks to continue his achievements which include eliminating Michelle Obama’s nutrition plan for one that provides more fresh produce, increasing inspections of gas pumps for fuel quality and illegal credit card scanners, and visiting China to open the Chinese markets to Texas beef. He has also been known to embrace an attitude paralleling that of DonTrump on social media. His bluster was made known when he called out Trey Blocker for campaigning at a “Yuppie Austin Coffee Bar.” Furthermore, he criticized a menu item in the background that said “banana Nutella crepes,” firing out, “Man of the people? I’ll stick to biscuits and gravy.”
Trey Blocker – his competitor, has criticized him for raising fees on farmers, collecting more revenue than needed to run the department. Blocker’s campaign seeks to “Drain the Austin Swamp” and reduce corruption. He wants to bring honesty, integrity, and fiscal responsibility to the job by lowering fees, cutting the bureaucracy, and protecting the rights of Texans. He has served as a lobbyist in Austin and possesses a law degree from the University of Texas. He has called out allegations against Miller’s ethical issues and the fact that Miller raised fees and gave huge bonuses to department employees.
Jim Hogan – lastly, is the third candidate in the Republican primaries. However, he does not play partisan games, and many websites claim him as a Democrat. He is a Johnson County farmer who does not want to be a politician. As he has stated, “ I just want to be a good agriculture commissioner for Texas.” He does not campaign, receive donations, and has no website. He ran before in the Democratic primary and is just hoping for a miracle to win.
For Democrats, Kim Olson is running unopposed.
Trey Blocker: https://treyblocker.com/
Kim Olson: https://votekimolson.org/
The Texas Railroad Commissioner:
- Serves 6-year terms (the three-person board has staggered terms like the US Senate)
- Regulates oil and natural gas industry, pipeline transporters, natural gas and hazardous liquid pipeline industry, natural gas utilities, the LP-gas industry, and coal and uranium surface mining operations
- Has nothing to do with railroads, roads, trains, or any other mode of transportation
In this election, the incumbent Christi Craddick runs for a second term against Weston Martinez. An attorney and graduate from the University of Texas, Christi Craddick has sought to roll back job-killing regulations in the energy sector and educate the public on oil and gas. She is known to be knowledgeable in the field but has been under fire for her cozy relationships with the energy industry.
Weston Martinez – wants to continue many of the reforms already occurring. He wants to keep cutting regulations and fees to allow companies to create more jobs for Texans. He wants to make the department more transparent (a theme across many races in Texas). As energy is vital to the Texas economy and a huge piece of our reputation, the Railroad Commissioner’s far-reaching regulatory power immensely shapes this industry. It would be prudent to become informed on the issues they deal with and read more into the candidates’ platforms.
Christi Craddick: https://www.christicraddick.com/
Weston Martinez: http://westonfortexas.com/
Chris Spellmon: https://www.chrisspellmon4texasrailroadcommissioner.com/
Roman McAllen: https://www.mcallenfortexas.com/
Those are just some of the major offices. People will also vote for our United States Senator and their local United States Congressman. The importance and prestige of these positions are already well-known and information on this is more readily available.
I hope everyone will also go and look into their Texas state representatives and senators as the Texas Congress affects the issues you care about far more than the United States Congress. In the last session, more than 6600 bills were filed and over 1100 became law. These bills included:
- A sanctuary city ban
- A ban on second-trimester abortions
- Pension reforms
- An elimination of straight ticket voting
- A ban on texting while driving
- A resolution to participate in a convention of states to amend the US Constitution
- Religious liberties for adoption agencies
- A bill to allow Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing services in cities across Texas
- A voter-id law
- Open carry
- Campus carry
Many of the issues we debate today are actually being dealt with at the state level. Other debates have included property taxes, the infamous bathroom bill, education reform, criminal justice reform, and the legalization of marijuana. Even President Trump has tweeted endorsements for all the major races in Texas! My point is that these elections are extremely important and deserve informed voters.
Being an informed voter means two things. One, being a voter by registering and showing up on voting days to cast a ballot. And two, reading up on the issues and making an educated decision as to who will do the best job and promulgate good policy.
Voting will be on Tuesday, March 6th. Precincts will be open from 7 am – 7 pm and you will need one of the following forms of acceptable ID to vote:
- Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
- Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
- Texas personal identification card issued by DPS
- Texas handgun license issued by DPS
- United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph
- United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph or
Please learn and go out to vote!
Sources and Additional Information:
Vote turnout rates: http://www.fairvote.org/voter_turnout#voter_turnout_101
Plural Executive Information: https://www.laits.utexas.edu/txp_media/html/exec/0900.html
Texas State House: http://www.house.texas.gov/
Texas State Senate: http://www.senate.texas.gov/
Check Registration: https://teamrv-mvp.sos.texas.gov/MVP/voterDetails.do
Generic Democratic Sample Ballot: http://www.dallascountyvotes.org/wp-content/uploads/180306_Dem-SampleBallot_Web.pdf
Generic Republican Sample Ballot: http://www.dallascountyvotes.org/wp-content/uploads/180306_Rep-SampleBallot_Web.pdf
How to find your own personal sample ballot customized to your district:
Texas Constitution: http://www.constitution.legis.state.tx.us/
Duties of Governor: https://gov.texas.gov/governor-abbott/duties
Greg Abbott Profile and Accomplishments: https://www.gregabbott.com/bio/
Larry SECEDE Kilgore: http://www.star-telegram.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/bud-kennedy/article157279549.html
Duties and powers of Lieutenant Governor: https://www.texmed.org/Template.aspx?id=5453#LtGovernor
Dan Patrick Profile and Accomplishments: https://www.danpatrick.org/meet-dan/
Scott Milder Profile: https://www.scottmilder4txlg.com/
Duties and powers of the Attorney General of Texas: https://texasattorneygeneral.gov/agency/duties-responsibilities-of-the-office-of-the-attorney-general
Duties and powers of Comptroller of Public Accounts:
Duties and powers of the Commissioner of the General Land Office: http://www.glo.texas.gov/index.html
Duties and powers of the Commissioner of Agriculture:
Duties and powers of the Railroad Commissioner:
Battle of Alamo and George P. Bush: https://www.texasmonthly.com/politics/alamo-george-p-bush/
Bills passed by Texas 85th Congres: https://apps.texastribune.org/85th-texas-legislature-major-bills/?_ga=2.73151315.1751218563.1519860119-438320574.1518150521