It's the third election in as many months, but today's primary runoff election could prove to be just as important as the primaries in March and the municipal and school board elections that took place a couple of week ago.
Among the races on the ballot for East Texans are two that could have a significant impact on our lives — lieutenant governor and Smith County Court at Law.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today.
County Court at Law
A field of four very qualified candidates was narrowed to two on March 4 in the race to replace retiring County Court at Law Judge Thomas Dunn. The choice now is between local attorneys Mike Patterson and Jason Ellis.
Mike Patterson receives our endorsement based on his experience and maturity. Patterson, 63, served as a prosecutor in Dallas and Smith counties before he opened his own practice. He has tried criminal and civil cases and mediated cases including multimillion dollar patent actions.
Jason Ellis is a fine candidate and has a bright political future. It's regrettable that voters have to choose one or the other — but choose we must.
The bench is important because as a misdemeanor and family law court, the County Court at Law is where many citizens will have their only significant contact with the judicial system (other than getting called for jury duty). People going before this bench will be facing difficult times in their lives, and the judge must have experience and wisdom in order to deal fairly and compassionately with all.
That's not to say Ellis lacks these qualities. But Patterson's years of experience give him the edge in this election.
The lieutenant governor's office is often called the "most powerful" seat in the state. Nothing gets through the Legislature without his say-so. The governor's veto can be overridden, in fact, while the lieutenant governor can keep any bill from getting a vote in the Senate.
On the ballot are incumbent David Dewhurst, and his challenger, state Sen. Dan Patrick. The winner of the GOP primary runoff will face Democratic nominee Sen. Leticia Van de Putte in November.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has been good for East Texas. But he's also been in office for a long, long time. Has he met the bar for one more term in that office? We feel that he has.
A big reason he's been good for the region is that he so often hands off the gavel to our own Sen. Kevin Eltife. That pays off for East Texas — especially on important issues such as water. Dewhurst recently appointed Eltife to the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas Advisory Committee. It's vital that East Texas have a seat at that table, because as Eltife has observed in the past, the real political divide in Texas isn't Republican versus Democrat — it's the urban interests versus everyone else.
It's clear that Dewhurst already works well with our legislative delegation as it seeks to secure and protect our regional interests.