Potter County judge race handicapping is tough

Let’s play a little game of political prognostication regarding Potter County’s five-person race for county judge.

Five Republicans have filed to fill the seat occupied by County Judge Arthur Ware, who’s decided not to seek another term. He’s still trying to recover from a devastating stroke.

I’ll stick by my contention that the two frontrunners remain Nancy Tanner, Ware’s long-time assistant, and former Amarillo Mayor Debra McCartt.

Three more candidates have filed: Bill Bandy, Bill Sumerford and Jeff Poindexter.

Of the three, let’s look at Bandy as the serious third choice behind Tanner and McCartt. Bandy has been involved at many levels of government and civic organizations … or so I understand. Sumerford and Poindexter have run unsuccessfully for other offices. Poindexter is a nice fellow. Sumerford is nice enough, too. Neither of them should be serious factors.

Back to the top three.

Tanner, McCartt and Bandy all figure to gain the lion’s share of votes. In a five-person race, therefore, it becomes difficult — as I see it — for one candidate to emerge with an outright majority in the GOP primary next March. That means a runoff would take place with the top two candidates.

If I were a betting man — and I’m not — I’d suggest that in a runoff, the second-place finisher is in the catbird seat. The individual who finishes first has his or her supporters on whom to count. The person who finishes second has his or her supporters, plus the whole rest of the votes cast for candidates other than the person who finished first.

I’ve seen this scenario play out before in Randall County, where the No. 2 candidate scarfs up enough of the anti-first-place vote-getter’s supporters to win a runoff.

Will this occur next March in the critical race to see who becomes the next Potter County judge?

I cannot predict it will, but it could emerge quickly as a distinct possibility.

Stay tuned for a most entertaining campaign.