Editorial note: We originally published this editorial on February 2nd, ahead of the March primary. We reiterate our support for Rep. Dan Branch in preparation for the May primary runoff by reprinting it today.
We would like to pose a question to our readership: What does the Texas Attorney General do? If you believe the incumbent, Greg Abbott, the job chiefly revolves around suing the President of the United States. If you believe one of the Republican contenders for this post, Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman, the job is simply a stepping stone to conservative, red-meat social issues. And if you believe one of the most recent Democrats to run for the post, David Van Os, the office is about providing liberals a soapbox to rant and rave against “Big Oil” and the energy sector.
Obviously, none of these are really correct answers. The Attorney General serves as the lawyer for the State of Texas, both representing the Governor and other agencies as official counsel and as the official defender of laws that are challenged in court. However, despite being the most flashy duties, this only represents a small fraction of the position’s responsibilities. In addition to those aforementioned duties, the Attorney General’s office also investigates a plethora of crimes that are especially heinous or damaging to public integrity. Finally, the office secures child support payments, which perhaps is its most time-consuming duty. When taking into account these responsibilities, this board is hard pressed to find a candidate in the Republican primary who will competently and capably fulfill these duties.
As has been previously referenced, we have not been amused by Smitherman’s antics thus far in the campaign. Whether this has been extremist positions on abortion, creationism or education, the people of this State would be in serious trouble if it entrusted such a powerful position to an individual so out of touch with reality.
State Senator Ken Paxton is also running for this position, but also panders to the far-right throughout his campaign. Whether this has been linking every political position with an unrelated castigation of President Obama or talking of mostly unrelated issues on the campaign trail, we have trouble seeing Paxton as a truly serious candidate.
Once again, by the process of elimination, that leaves us with one last candidate: State Representative Dan Branch. While he has surely been complicit in many of the aforementioned qualms we have had with the other candidates, we ultimately believe his partisanship and extremism is the least severe of the bunch. Additionally, Branch is the only Republican candidate who actually places attention on some of the most important issues for the Attorney General’s office. Look at Smitherman’s website, or Paxton’s, and one will not find a single reference on the “issues” page to Child Support. On the other hand, Branch takes a substantial amount of time to address both deadbeat parents and a strong stance against child abuse. Such a stand tells us that Branch understands the role of the office he is running for.
In an ideal world, this should be a given, common sense if you will. But like Voltaire famously uttered, “common sense is not so common.” Unfortunately, it is so rare in today’s Republican primary environment that it should be rewarded. Accordingly, we endorse Dan Branch in the Republican primary for Attorney General. Sam Houston is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.
The Texpatriate Editorial Board is comprised of Noah M. Horwitz & Olivia Arena of Austin, George Bailey of Boston and Andrew Scott Romo of New Orleans. Editorials represent the opinion of a majority of the board.