by BOB BARTON
The presidential election season is upon us, with a flood of early voters already casting their ballots.
As is my tradition, I offer up comments on some of the races that will be decided November 6. They are my conclusions alone, without consultation or advice from any of my cohorts.
For President – Barack Obama without hesitation. He surprised just about everyone four years ago, getting 48.1 percent of the vote in Hays County, carrying San Marcos and Kyle.
Mitt Romney thinks he is entitled to a post his well-qualified father sought but couldn’t win. This ain’t a royalist European country. You gotta earn elective office, not inherit or buy it in a political auction. Obama started from scratch, just as Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln did, and he has done a good job, despite the economic hard times brought on by Middle Eastern wars that were ill-advised and too costly in both lives and money.
A sizable number of disgruntled Ron Paul supporters in the county will probably cast their lot with the Libertarians and former New Mexico Gov. Johnson, so it is conceivable there will be a close contest in Hays, although Texas will probably be in the Romney camp by a comfortable margin.
For U.S. Senate – Paul Sadler, former East Texas legislator with great expertise in public school funding. Our funding of public schools is in horrible condition and the upset Republican victor Ted Cruz is lawyer import totally beholden to the far right wing of his party led by Grover Norquist and his Wall Street lobbyists. Wall Street already has one Texas senator in the palm of its hands. Cruz has way more money; Sadler has way more sense.
For U.S. Rep., Dist. 21 – Candace Duval. Her opponent for the district that runs through the middle of Hays is long term Congressman Lamar Smith of San Antonio. He is a back-bencher and over the hill, but will be the heavy favorite to win. The redistricting map makes him the almost certain victor, but he is lightweight and a prime example of the current do-nothing Congress.
For U.S. Rep., Dist. 35 – The eastern third of Hays County is in a district that includes a majority of Hispanics from both Travis and Bexar Counties. Lloyd Doggett won the Democratic nomination by crushing two Hispanic challengers. The Republican nominee, Susan Narvaiz of San Marcos, was a good mayor a few years back, but has neither the funding nor the experience to make this a close race. Vote Doggett without hesitation.
For U.S. Rep., Dist. 25 – Roger Williams, a longtime Republican leader who easily won his primary that includes far western Hays County, will win easily over an unknown Democrat and a Libertarian. It’s a lousy drawn district and puts control of this district in the hands of Forth Worth area residents.
For Railroad Commission – Dale Henry, an underfunded Democrat, is qualified for the job. Republican Christi Craddick is the daughter of power former House Seaker Tom Craddick, and is trying to ride the coattails of her father into an office that she is not qualified to hold. Henry is qualified. Craddick is not.
For Supreme Court – This used to be an all Democratic court. For a couple of decades it has been 100 percent Republican. It’s time for a little diversity. Elect Democrat Michele Petty to the court and broaden its base. Neither party should totally dominate any elected group.
For Presiding Judge, Court of Criminal Appeal – Attorneys and court-watchers of all stripes have endorsed Democrat Keith Hampton. The incumbent, Sharon Keller, embarrassed the state by turning away a death row appeal because “we close at 5 p.m.” The Texas Ethics Commission later fined her a record $100,000 for hiding millions in personal assets. She has to go. Hampton is highly qualified. There would still be eight Republican judges on this court to one Democrat.
For State Board of Education, Dist. 5 – Rebecca Bell-Metereau of San Marcos. A member of the faculty at Texas State, Bell-Metereau would be a great addition to this board, which is currently handicapped by the fanatical rantings of some of its members who are beholden to a group of Neanderthals who aren’t even sure the world is round, but have deep pockets and a shrill message that keeps our educational system in turmoil. Self-proclaimed “historian” David Barton, a major troublemaker and right-wing agitator, leads the charge statewide against both Republican and Democratic moderates who want to make this board a vehicle for educational improvement. David Barton ain’t no kin to any of my kith, and my non-Neanderthal kin will emphasize my feelings by voting in considerable numbers for Bell-Metereau on election day. Join the crusade to restore sanity to the State Education Board.
For State Senate, Dist. 21 – Sen. Judith Zaffirini of Laredo has inherited a dozen or so precincts east of Interstate 35 in Hays County as part of the wacky redistricting plan that the Republicans enacted. Probably the most influential of our 31 state senators when it comes to matters involving higher education, her base is solid in her Laredo home area, and she will easily defeat a Republican challenger from Caldwell County who is not actively campaigning. Hays County will greatly benefit by our affiliation with her.
For State Senate, Dist. 25 – Donna Campbell shocked the area by her strong victory over Republican Sen. Jeff Wentworth in the Republican primary. She appears to be a nice person, but she would be out of her depth in the Senate. Voters, if they want a strong voice for Hays and Comal counties in a district that is dominated by Bexar County, would be better off with John Courage of San Antonio, a grass-roots activist with brains, an education background, and strong communication skills. Campbell is favored, but a strong endorsement for Courage from the San Antonio Express gives him a fighting chance. We need an independent senator who has the backbone to stand up to Gov. Perry, whose “oops” moment on national TV showed clearly that time has passed him by. Vote for Courage, the better qualified candidate.
For State Rep., Dist. 45 – My vote goes to John Adams. Current State Rep. Jason Isaac is a nice, likable guy. But like a lot of folks who moved to Hays County in the last decade or so, he has little appreciation for the fact that over the past 150 years Hays County taxpayers have spent lots of time and money in building top-notch public schools.
Since consolidating dozens of school districts, beginning in the mid-1950s, we have had education leaders and residents pushing for better education – and raising the funds needed. As a result we now have four top-notch school systems, instead of 30-plus substandard ones.
Unfortunately, we have an under-performing governor who has spent millions of dollars – on roads to nowhere, on big salaries to new employees whose only jobs are based on how much money they can raise from wealthy people who want gubernatorial appointments. Isaac is beholden to Rick Perry, and a legislature full of tea-baggers will just ensure our educational decline.
We need good, locally controlled public schools, and nice guys like Isaac are on the wrong side of the on-going fight to protect what our forefathers built over the past 150 years.
For Justice of Third Court of Appeals – This court covers more than 20 counties in Central Texas and does have both Democratic and Republican judges. Incumbent Democrat Diane Henson of Place 3 has been a strong member, and Andrew Hathcock and Bryan Case are well-qualified Democratic challengers for Place 2 and Place 6 and deserve to be on the court. Their membership would flesh out the court with beneficial viewpoints.
For Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer District – Locally, the folks living from Mountain City to the north will vote for a director to the Barton Springs Aquifer District Board. Jim Ruby has been a frequent critic of the district. He comes from a family with deep ties to the area and deserves consideration (I was friends with his parents and grandparents), but incumbent chairman Mary Stone is a bright, hard-working member who balances economic interests with protecting our water supplies for the long haul and deserves re-election. The race is non-partisan.