When it comes to last minute Statewide filings, there were few big surprises besides Steve Stockman going up against John Cornyn, and Justice Larry Meyers becoming a Democrat, both of which I have previously covered. Indeed, the news I will focus on is the continued laziness and complacency of the Democrats, which in and of itself is not especially surprising. But more on that about two paragraphs down.
For the non-Judicial posts, Democrats were responsible enough this go-around to recruit candidates for all of the openings for the first time in six years (in 2010, we allowed Susan Combs to be re-elected without contest, and in 2012, we allowed Barry Smitherman to do the same). Except for the Agriculture Commissioner, Railroad Commissioner and Governor (Wendy Davis faces token opposition), all the other Democrats stood alone in their primaries. The obvious major exception is for the US Senate seat, which will feature three major candidates, David Alameel, Michael Fjetland and Maxey Scherr.
For the Judicial positions, a few qualified candidates also ran. Bill Moody, an El Paso District Judge who has previously run for the Supreme Court, will seek the Chief Justice’s office. The aforementioned Larry Meyers, who currently serves as a Justice on the Court of Criminal Appeals, will run for a spot on the Supreme Court. Gina Benavides, the Chief Justice of the 13th Court of Appeals (based in Corpus Christi), will run for yet another spot. Additionally, John Granberg, an attorney out of El Paso, will run for the Court of Criminal Appeals. These four candidates will be extraordinarily competent on the campaign trail and would make fine Supreme Court or Court of Criminal Appeals Justices.
But one position on the Supreme Court and two on the statewide Court of Criminal Appeals went without Democratic candidates. If you are not as outraged about this as me, you are part of the problem of complacency and laziness all too pervasive in the Texas Democratic Parry–the members of the party, not the leaders.
Democrats have talked up 2014 being the year they finally score some victories. I have historically been skeptical of such a prognostication, but remained cautiously optimistic nonetheless. Even as I have been originally tepid of the party’s political novice nominees for US Senate, Attorney General and Comptroller, I have lately been impressed by the breadth of their political skills and oratory ability. But an empty place on the ballot cannot ‘grow on you.’
I’ve gotten nauseous hearing so many otherwise reasonable people casing off this inexcusable laziness “It’s a good effort,” or “What a good start.” Good starts and good efforts are the lamentations my father would tell me when I played baseball in junior high, or when my brother played basketball at the same age. By the way, neither of us have any trophies from our attempts at athleticism. If we want to be frank about the situation, and admit that this is a rebuilding year for “good efforts” and the what not, that is fine –and probably truthful– but you will never hear the Austin intelligentsia admit it.
Make no mistake, this is our fault, as in each and every Texas Democrat, rather than specifically the leadership or any sort of inner-circle. In fact, the very buckpassing that could lead to such an assumption is inherently the problem. Instead of just assuming that an overextended, out-of-money State Party office will be able to move heaven and earth to find candidates, perhaps others should pick up the slack. Bexar, Harris and Tarrant Counties have enough on their plates working to turn the counties blue, but the local organizations in Dallas, El Paso, Travis and the Valley counties should certainly contribute something to finding credible, competent attorneys to run for statewide judicial office.
It truly is not that hard, the Libertarians can do it, as can the Green Party. I refuse to admit the Democrats are too lazy and/or incompetent to reach the mark of a third party.
The only surprise to think of on the other side of the aisle was that Joe Pool Jr, a former candidate for the Railroad Commission, instead filed for the Supreme Court, challenging incumbent Justice Jeff Brown.
UPDATE: Dos Centavos has more.