The last time Fort Worth Business endorsed candidates in an election, the 2015 water board race, the voters handed us – and the candidates we endorsed – our heads on a platter. The voters did pretty much the opposite of what we advised them to do.
Undaunted, we soldier on. Despite what seems to be growing sentiment both outside and within the news business that the tradition of newspaper endorsements is an anachronism that should have been laid to rest along with the “read all about it” street corner news vendor, we remain convinced that a newspaper has a responsibility to weigh in as the electoral process works it wonders – and that at least some of our readers expect us to do so and may even value our viewpoint.
We labor under no delusion that our endorsements significantly influence voters’ decision-making, although we hope that thoughtful citizens will fold our suggestions into their thinking along with the countless other morsels of information available to them in today’s digital drenched marketplace.
Gone are the days when we would endorse in every race on the ballot – that would be, we suspect, more opinionizing than readers care to wrestle with – but the March 1 Texas primary ballot does include some races that we feel strongly about and on which we feel compelled to take a stand – whether you want us to or not.
The list starts, of course, with the highly contentious and volatile contests for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations. Like virtually everyone else in America, the FWB editorial board has obsessed over the polls, the debates, the reality show campaign rallies, the “you used to be my friend but now I hate you” attack ads and the overwrought media punditry declaring that this election, surely, signals the end of civilization as we know it.
That said, we’ll make our picks.
On the Republican side, we simply ruled out the name-calling, mudslinging exhibitionists Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, the not-quite-ready-for-prime-time Marco Rubio, the hopelessly befuddled Ben Carson and the “if his name was Jeb Jones he wouldn’t be running” Jeb Bush.
Which leaves us, amazingly, with the candidate we like best of all: Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
By the time Texans vote on March 1, we should note, South Carolina voters will have gone to the polls in that state’s Feb. 20 primary and many pundits were predicting as we wrote this on Feb. 18 that Kasich might find it necessary to suspend his campaign if he didn’t do well in South Carolina. We’re guessing that Kasich won’t drop out – but even if he does, he is still on the ballot in Texas and a vote for him will at the very least send a message to the other candidates that some of us prefer a serious candidate with a positive message and sensible proposals designed to get this country back on track.
Kasich was an outstanding congressman who played a key role in balancing the federal budget in the 1990s and he has been an excellent governor, cutting taxes, creating jobs and reducing bureaucracy – the very things that Americans yearn to see happen in Washington. And Republican voters should consider this: Two recent polls show Kasich handily defeating likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in a head-to-head matchup.
And there’s one more thing – a Texas connection. Kasich worked closely with former Fort Worth Congressman Pete Geren, a Democrat, and came to Cowtown to pay tribute to Geren when the popular representative left Congress in 1997.
Now to the Democrats. Call us crazy, but we endorse Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
It’s not so much that we agree with Sanders on the key issues of the campaign – we don’t agree with him on anything, to be perfectly honest. But we like the energy he has brought to the Democratic race and we especially like that he has slowed if not thwarted the expected coronation of Hillary Clinton.
Clinton seems to think the Democratic Party owes her its presidential nomination – and, even worse, that the American people are somehow obligated to anoint her as the nation’s first woman president. If nothing else, a vote for Bernie tells Hillary that she’ll have to earn the nomination and offer voters a far more convincing rationale for her candidacy than that it is her turn to be president.
Besides, as a self-declared socialist Sanders strikes us as a perfectly appropriate standard-bearer for a national Democratic Party that has moved so far to the left in recent years that it may as well call itself the Socialist Party.
Now we turn to some down-ballot races that we believe are especially important.
— Tarrant Couunty Sheriff: The Republican nominee will be elected – no Democrats filed for sheriff – so the GOP primary is crucial. We endorse incumbent Sheriff Dee Anderson.
Anderson is seeking his fifth and reportedly final term as sheriff. He has done an outstanding job, cleaning up a department that had been racked with turmoil and mismanagement and running it efficiently and effectively throughout his tenure. He deserves re-election.
— State Representative District 99, Republican: We endorse incumbent Rep. Charlie Geren.
First elected in 2000, Geren has steadily worked his way up the chain of leadership in the state GOP to a position of vast influence in Austin. His most recent success locally was outside the statehouse, saving the life of “Oatmeal,” the blind steer auctioned off at the stock show and headed to the processing plant. Geren talked Texas A&M President John Sharp into making a place for “Oatmeal” in the school’s science department. But Charlie is also a man who can bring home the bacon. He controls enormous influence over the fate of many Fort Worth and Tarrant County projects. We lose Charlie and we lose our prime spot at the table.
— 96th District Court, Republican: We endorse incumbent Judge R.H. Wallace, who was appointed in 2010 by then-Gov. Rick Perry. Wallace is a longtime Fort Worth lawyer and highly regarded by virtually everyone who has practiced before him.
— Texas Supreme Court, Place 3, Republican: We endorse incumbent Justice Debra Lehrmann.
— Texas Supreme Court, Place 5, Republican: We endorse incumbent Justice Paul Green.
— Texas Supreme Court, Place 9, Republican: We endorse incumbent Justice Eva Guzman.