Tag Archives: partisan labels

Partisan labels are so, so, so distracting

I detest — no, I actually hate — electing judges on partisan tickets, forcing them to run either as Democrat or Republican.

That is no surprise to those who have been reading my musings over many years. I have tried to make the case that Texas needs to shed its partisan election of judges in favor of a system that allows voters to look more critically at someone’s judicial philosophy than at his or her party affiliation.

We’re heading into another election year. It’s going to be a doozy. We get to choose a president; in Texas, we get to select a U.S. senator. There will be a whole host of local offices as well, at the legislative and county levels.

Thus, I want to offer something that I once posited in a newspaper column back in the Texas Panhandle when I was a working stiff writing for the Amarillo Globe-News.

Why must we elect district attorneys, sheriffs, treasurers, tax assessor-collectors, district clerks, county clerks and — gulp! — constables on partisan ballots? I won’t mention justices of the peace, because I include them as judges.

I wrote a column once for the Globe-News in which I pitched the idea that partisan labels don’t apply to many of the officials who must run under either party’s banner. I got a surprising endorsement of that view from the Randall County tax assessor-collector at the time, who said she agreed with the basic tenet of my column. It was that there is no difference between what a Republican tax collector does and what a Democratic tax collector does. They both swear to follow Texas statute, which makes no delineation between the parties.

The same can be said of sheriffs, DAs, district and county clerks, treasurers. How does a Republican sheriff do his or her job compared to a Democratic sheriff? Are GOP sheriffs tougher on bad guys than Democrats? Please.

Same with DAs, which I suppose you could lump into the same sort of mold as judges. Why not judge these DA candidates on their legal philosophy rather than on whether they have a D or an R next to their name?

I know this will go absolutely nowhere. Texas legislators are so very resistant to change, let alone resistant to doing anything that would require amending the Texas Constitution.

I just want to express a continuing frustration with Texas’s love affair with partisan labels.

There. I’ve done it. I feel better already.

Voting for the party, not the candidate

We’ve all said at one time or another: I vote for the candidate, not the party.

This item in today’s Daily Oklahoman caught my eye. It’s on the editorial page and, of course, it gigs Democratic-leaning voters for making some, um, strange polling-place choices on Election Day. I get it, given the paper’s conservative tilt editorially. No problem with that.


An editorial brief in the Oklahoman┬árefers to a Democratic candidate for Congress who received 35,006 votes on Tuesday — even though he died in a car accident several days before the election. Then it refers to a Cleveland County commissioner candidate, another Democrat, who received 38 percent of the vote despite having been arrested three times for drunken driving.

The paper wonders whether party label mattered over candidate qualifications.

Good point.

But here’s another example of the point the Oklahoman was making.

Over here, in Potter County, a Republican candidate for justice of peace actually defeated a long-time Democratic incumbent even though the GOP challenger had been arrested multiple times in recent years on felony charges involving domestic disputes.

Does party affiliation matter more in this instance than a candidate’s actual qualifications?

I will┬ásay, with considerable emphasis, “yes.”