Let’s have some fun with numbers, because in less than four weeks, about 9.7 percent of you will vote while the other 90 percent of you sit around complaining about the men and women we elect to office.
If the red, white and blue signs in your neighbors’ yards aren’t indication enough, primary elections are March 6, and if you’re the 1-in-10 who bother to show up at the polls, here’s some information you won’t find anywhere else – because nobody is dumb enough to do this sort of counting.
If you vote in the Democratic primary (you can choose one or the other party in primaries), you’re going to puke when you see the ballot.
No kidding. When you stand between those musty curtains and start scrolling the wheel of uncertainty, you will be asked to select candidates in 94 different races. Sure, you’ll find the popular ones, like U.S. Senator, Governor, Lt. Governor and Sheila Jackson Lee (who has a legitimate, well-qualified opponent this year), but it’s those darn judicial races that will induce carpel tunnel.
If there’s a judge that needs electing, you’ll find that position on the ballot. In your best Forrest Gump accent (which is about the same as mine), you’ve got your Supreme judges, your Presiding judges, your Appeals judges. There’s District judges, Family District judges, County judges, Criminal Court judges, County Probate judges, barbecue shrimp, shrimp creole… wait.
If that makes you less likely to vote, I do offer good news. Of those 94 races on the Democratic ballot, 55 of them are unopposed, which means you can turn the wheel right past their names.
And if you’re a Republican smirking at those numbers, hold your cocktail sauce. You’ve got 92 races on your ballot. If you live on the western side of the Heights into Timbergrove, you have to pick one of nine candidates to replace the venerable Ted Poe in Congress. You’ve got wonderful people from whom to choose in that race, but that’s about the only choosing you really need to do.
Of the 92 races on the Republican primary ballot, only 20 have more than one candidate. Incumbent U.S. Senator Ted Cruz must fight off challenges from four newcomers. On paper, it appears incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott must get past two opponents. Then, once you open the paper, you realize that may not be the case.
The two people who’d like to unseat Abbott are Barbara Krueger and, I kid you not, SECEDE Kilgore. I did not capitalize his name in an effort to subliminally tell you to vote for this fellow (who was born Larry Kilgore). Nope, that’s the way it appears on the ballot because he legally changed his name to get a few votes from those of you who forgot we made it past 1845.
I looked into SECEDE and Mrs. Krueger to see if they’d pose a serious threat to Abbott’s re-election bid, and I really wanted to know if SECEDE looked anything like I imagined, which he absolutely did. Obviously, the only way to determine a person’s popularity is through Facebook. Gov. Abbott has 1.2 million followers. SECEDE has 750. Poor Mrs. Krueger doesn’t have a Facebook page. She doesn’t have a website, either. As far as I can tell, she doesn’t even have a picture.
Four years ago, a total of 1,265 people voted for SECEDE when he last ran against Abbott. I’m taking the over this year.
Here’s a bit more education to help prep those of you who plan to vote.
On the Democratic ballot, once you make it through those mind-numbing 94 races, you then must vote “Yes” or “No” on 12 propositions which the Texas Democratic Party really wants you to approve. I won’t list them all, but here’s a sampling:
“Should everyone in Texas have the right to quality public education… and affordable college and career training without the burden of crushing student loan debt?”
“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 clean air, safe water, and a healthy environment?”
You get the drift of the questions Democrats will have to answer. Should the rich pay more in taxes, should the criminal justice department treat people fairly, should all the DREAMers be protected? If you’ve heard Nancy Pelosi say it, you’ll need to approve of it on your ballot.
Same goes for the Republicans, except you have 11, not 12, propositions.
“Texas should replace the property tax system with an appropriate consumption tax equivalent.”
“Texas families should be empowered to choose from public, private, charter or homeschool options… using tax credits…”
“I believe abortion should be abolished in Texas.”
The reason Democrats and Republicans will vote on these propositions isn’t to create law; it’s to affirm the party’s stance on specific issues. As the Republican Party tells its voters, this is an “effective way to poll Republican voters on various issues and inform elected officials on where those voters stand.”
I’ve taken a slightly less than serious approach to what is actually intended to be an informative column, and beginning this week, The Leader will do its best to tell you all we can about this election.
Inside today’s edition, we’ve published specific questions we asked candidates running for U.S. Congress. We’d like to at least run these interviews for contested races that have the greatest local impact.
We aren’t going to run stories on every judicial candidate, mainly because the primaries aren’t the place for that. We also won’t be the place to tell you about the state and national races, because our brethren at the big papers do that much better (although they all will tell you to vote straight party Democrat because that’s what they believe).
Regardless of the sheer volume of races on the primary ballot, most of us have spent the past year complaining about politicians. If you don’t spend a little time reading about the ones who have the courage to put their names on a ballot, you have absolutely no right to complain come November.