Texas, as well you know by now, has provided Mitt Romney with the final votes necessary for the Republican nomination. Having not registered as a Republican, I have nothing to do with that. As I discovered between plastic partitions in a church community room yesterday, the Texas democrat's ballot is decidedly less interesting this primary season. Unless you take an interest in local races. There's been a lot in our news about redistricting and voter registration, which must have taken up the news cycle for looking at the candidates for Dallas County Sheriff. Happily, the Dallas Morning News offers a voter guide that allows one to compare candidates. Feel free to play along: http://c3.thevoterguide.org/v/dallas12/race-detail.do?id=10254371
Now don't waste your time with race for Railroad Commissioner--however much you may want to imagine a politician wearing striped overalls, there's just one candidate running unopposed. Instead compare the responses of 64 year-old Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez to her 23 year-old challenger Charlie J. Thomas. On the question, "Have you ever been arrested or involved in any criminal proceedings or civil suits?" Valdez says only, "No." Mr Thomas, on the other hand, takes two paragraphs to explain a public intoxication charge that lead to his resignation from UTSW Police Department.
Valdez is at all times professional and concise, if a little vague for my tastes. Mr. Thomas, however, describes his "Highlights of current civic involvement/accomplishment" as follows:
Currently I have been bogged down with the current economic situation that most Americans are experiencing; High gas prices and not enough pay. I am employed at two jobs working over 52 hours a week and still struggling to support myself like most other people.
He also takes the opportunity to discuss Vitamin C at one point, and a lengthy history of Abraham Lincoln, the political leader he most admires, includes the fact, "He stood 6 feet 4 inches," and ends with the conclusion, "He was someone like a Julius Caesar for America." If you wonder why Thomas is running for office, he's got a 30 paragraph explanation for that. I'll reprint the first paragraph here:
I am running to hopefully advance to greater office and fundamentally change this country in line with the U.S. Constitution. I do believe everyone has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Thomas Jefferson once declared that, “ In questions of power let us hear no more of trust in men, but bind them down from mischief with the chains of the constitution.” And that is what I eventually want to do.
I find his honesty genuinely refreshing, if rarely on topic. This is a man whose response to "What specific improvements would you make to jail operations to ensure that the county doesn’t repeat the inspection failures of past years?" reads, in its entirety:
I believe the current Sheriff has done a good job on passing state inspections. I want to continue some of her policies.
I think it's kind of bold to slip in a Jefferson quote in a campaign for local office, bolder still to aspire to binding people down with the chains of the constitution, but the endorsement of the opposing candidate is downright special. I don't know if Charlie Thomas explains anything bigger about the politics of a state that produced Ron Paul or Rick Perry, but he's given me a reason to read the voter's guide with closer attention, and it's hard not to appreciate that.