I used to drive former state Rep. David Swinford borderline batty with my occasional columns about the need for incumbents to get challenged at every election cycle.
My argument always has been that political incumbents at every level need to defend their record against legitimate challengers to their incumbency. The Dumas (Texas) Republican legislator understood that argument … but he still would express some mild (and good-natured) displeasure at my stating it.
One of Swinford’s colleagues — Republican state Sen. Kel Seliger of Amarillo — is getting a serious challenge again this coming year. Regular readers of this blog know that I want Seliger to win his party’s nomination, which is tantamount to election in the GOP-friendly Texas Panhandle.
But he’s going to have to work for it. Which I consider to be good (a) for the incumbent and (b) for the cause of good government.
Former Midland Mayor Mike Canon is stepping up once more to challenge Seliger. The two of them faced off in 2014. The race was close, but Seliger emerged victorious. This year, Amarillo business owner Victor Leal has joined the Republican primary lineup.
The quality of Leal’s candidacy remains to be seen. Canon’s approach four years ago was to talk in TEA Party clichés, talking points and platitudes. He still garnered a lot of votes.
That’s all OK, though.
Seliger has served the sprawling Texas Senate District 31 he has represented since 2004 quite well, in my estimation. That doesn’t mean he should get a free pass.
Representative democracy demands a stout challenge when the opportunity presents itself. It’s doing so in this legislative contest.
Whoever emerges victorious in this primary fight — and I do hope it’s Seliger — figures to be tempered by the difficult campaign he will have endured. That’s good for state government.