Political traditions often consist of unwritten rules of decorum and courtesy.
One of them involves the transition from one elected official to another in a particular office. Let’s take, just for kicks, the Potter County judge’s office.
Will courtesy be the rule of the day when Nancy Tanner takes over at the end of the year from her former boss, Arthur Ware?
Tanner — who served as Ware’s administrative assistant during his tenure as judge — won the Republican Party primary in March in the race to succeed Ware, who didn’t seek re-election after serving as county judge for 20-plus years. Tanner’s road to victory got a little bumpy right off the start.
She declared her intention to seek the office before Ware announced this would be his final term. She didn’t officially declare her candidacy, just let it be known she was thinking about it.
Ware then fired Tanner from her job. You’re out! he told her. Pack your stuff up and hit the road. Ware then announced he would retire from public office at the end of the year and endorsed former Amarillo Mayor Debra McCartt in the GOP primary.
Ware never has explained precisely why he fired Tanner.
Tanner won the primary outright. No Democrats are on the ballot, so pending the outcome of November election — which Tanner will win — she’ll become county judge-elect.
One of the more interesting facets of the campaign is that Tanner ran on her experience as Ware’s top hand. During a Panhandle PBS-sponsored candidate forum, Tanner declared that “only two people on Earth” know the details of the job of county judge: Arthur Ware and Nancy Tanner.
So, I cannot help but wonder if Tanner and Ware will be able to set their acrimony aside long enough for Ware to show Tanner all the ropes, the hidden tasks and responsibilities and perhaps share a secret or two with her that even she doesn’t know.
I hope for a smooth transition and seamless handoff. Hey, if presidents of the United States can be beaten senseless by challengers and then leave nice notes in the Oval Office desk drawer for them when they depart …
Surely a county judge in Texas can show some grace as he leaves the public arena.