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Texas candidates trying to garner voter attention and support have stiff competition this year: New politics unfolding outside of the 2022 campaigns are more interesting than the election itself right now.
From school board meetings to courtrooms to hospitals, the most engaging political issues seem to be happening everywhere – except on the traditional battlefield.
Early voting is less than three weeks away, and politicians seeking to get elected – especially challengers and newcomers who have little time to tell voters who they are and why they are running for office – are in competing with political issues unlikely to be resolved by the votes cast in the primaries.
After state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, launched his since-abandoned campaign for attorney general, he sent public school districts in Texas an 850-pound list, asking superintendents to confirm whether one of them was used in libraries or classrooms. .
It was late October. Since then, Krause decided to run for the Tarrant County District Attorney instead of AG. But inquiries like his and the legislature at large into what is taught about racial history and sociology and about gender have metastasized into vociferous debates and protests at school board meetings that were already arenas of disputes. on how to make public education work during the pandemic. Book banners have also moved to public libraries.
It’s not that voters aren’t interested; similar arguments turned the Virginia governor’s race toward Glenn Youngkin late last year. It was a general election; the “us vs. them” issue doesn’t ring many bells in the party primaries. It’s a way to get attention, but not a great way to differentiate one Republican from another or one Democrat from another. The leading candidates are unlikely to disagree with each other on these issues.
Gov. Greg Abbott unleashed a series of proposals aimed at parents this week, building on Youngkin and reinvigorating previous efforts to push parent-rights bills through the Texas Legislature. Among other things, it would give parents the right to decide whether their children should repeat a year or be promoted to the next – an option they currently only have until third year.
Hospitalizations and death rates in Texas have increased since the omicron variant of COVID-19 as the pandemic enters its third year. Case numbers and positivity rates are down, a good sign. Masking and vaccination are persistent topics of argument and political debate, but have not become points of division in the primary campaigns. The public is engaged, but the March election doesn’t offer the kind of choice of this or that that presented itself in 2020 and could return in the November 2022 general election.
Federal courts, not voting booths, are where disputes over political maps for Texas elections take place — as well as challenges to new laws for voting and counting votes in those elections. These questions are important, but out of the candidates’ hands.
State judges will ultimately decide whether Attorney General Ken Paxton should be convicted of securities fraud charges that have been pending for more than six years. It’s a campaign issue – his opponents certainly want to talk about it – but his guilt or innocence will be decided by judges, not voters.
Border security and immigration are a central topic for Republican candidates in Texas, one that will play a bigger role in electoral politics in the general election than in the primaries.
And that question is also one for the courts, where the state is being sued by lawyers for migrants they say were illegally arrested as part of the state’s multibillion-dollar border security effort. . This crackdown pits Abbott and other heads of state against President Joe Biden and other Democrats in Washington, D.C.
It’s a loud, partisan political argument about a long-standing issue in Texas and other states bordering Mexico. That will be part of the fight in November’s general election, when Democrats and Republicans face off. Voters are interested and engaged.
But despite the primary campaigns already underway, this is, for now, another fight for the judges, not the voters.