By Judge Steve Walker
With less than two weeks until the November General Election, voters will begin seriously looking and evaluating the candidates on the ballot who will represent them at all levels from President of the United States to the down ballot for Justice of the Peace and Constable.
With so many candidates to choose from, independent voters who are not affiliated with either party will make the difference in which candidate will go home and those that will be sworn into office, January 1st.
Looking at the number of primary voters who voted in the Republican Primary versus the Democratic Party in 2012, an objective and astute observer would conclude, the Republicans will repeat their impressive win in 2010 that ousted 12 Democratic Judges in Bexar County, one Congressman (Ciro Rodriguez) and one State Rep. (David Leibowitz)
District 23 Congressman Francisco “Quico” Canesco and State Rep. John V. Garza took those seats from the Democrats. Previously District 117 was considered a safe Democratic stronghold. It is now a swing district as is Congressional District 23 being contested by Democratic State Rep. Pete Gallego who recently stopped the political comeback of Ciro Rodriguez.
When all was said and done in 2010, one Democratic Commissioner, (Tommy Adkisson) one Congressman (Charlie Gonzalez) and one State Board of Education candidate (Dr. Michael Soto) survived the onslaught. Every other Democrat candidate lost. It was one of the largest political tsunamis in many a year. State School Board of Education Member (SBOE) Dr. Michael Soto recently lost his bid for a second term in the Democratic Primary, while Congressman Charlie Gonzalez chose to retire after seven terms in the House.
And now we are heading into the election looking like it will be a repeat of 2010 unless unforeseen circumstances prevail and change the political landscape causing what has commonly been labeled, “the October Surprise.”
The Republican primary races between Senatorial candidate Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and Tea Party candidate Ted Cruz and State Senator Jeff Wentworth and Tea Party candidate Dr. Donna Campbell totally energized the turnout in comparison to the dismal Democratic primary turnout. Again barring some glitch, we will see Ted Cruz elected US Senator over former State Rep. Paul Sadler, and Dr. Donna Campbell elected State Senator over Progressive Democrat John Courage.
The question arises, what is the incentive to vote Republican versus Democratic or visa versa? To the independent voter, one has to answer some basic questions. First of all the independent voter should ask “how do Republicans differ from Democrats in representing my best interest.” Although it is generally perceived that Republicans tend to be conservative and Democrats tend to be liberal leaning, the question needs to be addressed.
It must be pointed out that historically most party members on both sides do not follow in lockstep on every issue that affects everyday citizens. It is not unusual for candidates on both sides to ignore party platforms as well. Presidential candidates do it all the time. Less than 60 percent give or take, from both parties, vote straight party ticket. That gives a candidate on the opposing party ticket a chance to receive crossover votes in their perspective race. However, they must work diligently to convince the “other side” why they should vote for them.
The informed voter usually makes their decisions on particular candidates based on what they know about the candidate, good or bad. It is not unusual that a less than qualified candidate or one who has baggage or personal history that would adversely affect their judgment is elected because the voter was not well informed on that candidate. Familiar names tend to do well even though they are not the best qualified to serve. Case in point, the Congress has a 10 percent favorability rating. What does that tell you?
The next question to consider for the independent voter is “What are some of the issues that are important to me and which party can best reflect my position? Some voters are one issue voters. If the abortion issue for example is a major issue that you care deeply about and you are pro-life you more than likely will vote Republican while if you are Pro-choice you will more likely vote Democratic. Currently the national poll shows that 51 percent polled said they are pro-life, while 42 percent polled say they are pro-choice. Not all 51 percent of Republicans are pro-life anymore than 42 percent of all Democrats are pro-choice.
Looking to some of the local races to watch, the first one that comes to mind is that hotly contested Sheriff’s race. The incumbent Democrat Amadeo Ortiz is currently coming under fire over number of issues to include handling of the jail budget due to among other things a personnel shortage. Ret. Air Force General Susan Pamerleau has vast experience overseeing multimillion dollar budgets during her military career as well as commanding thousands of troops under her command. While she has that in her favor, Sheriff Ortiz has over 30 years of peace officer experience at many levels having been an SAPD officer before transferring to the Sheriff’s Department. Since the Sheriff’s job is primarily an administrative position, you can decide which of those qualifications will better serve the community.
Another race to look at is the Bexar County Tax Assessor Collector. Democrat Albert Uresti is facing Republican Robert Stovall. The position was vacated when longtime Tax Assessor Collector Sylvia Romo declined to run for re-election and opted to run for the newly created Congressional District 35.
Uresti is the older brother of longtime State Senator Carlos Uresti and has been a former City Manager of a number of small towns around Bexar County. Republican Robert Stovall who beat former Councilman John Clamp in the primary is a certified financial adviser with years of experience. Running a city or working as a financial adviser are both good experiences to serve as Tax Assessor Collector.
Obviously the most important duty of the voter be they Republican, Democrat or Independent is to turnout at the polls and cast your ballot for your candidate or candidates that best represent your views. If you don’t, someone one will decide for you. That may not be in your best interest.
Justice of the Peace, Pct. 2 Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran, former Journalist, and Reagan Democrat. Check out his photo blog at http://www.walkerreport.net/