Issue to watch: statewide elections

Students will be affected immeasurably by statewide elections this November. Claims that “this is an election like no other” begin to blend together as useless cliches after a while, but the claim rings true this year. For all the non-judicial state elections, seven in all, no incumbent has been renominated by a major party.

Countless positions, such as the railroad commissioner, lieutenant governor and comptroller are all up for grabs this year in elections that will indubitably prove to be exciting. But the most fireworks, unsurprisingly, have come from the governor’s race.

State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, is facing off against Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott. Abbott is highly favored to win, but the political obituary has surely yet to be written on Davis, who has pulled upset victories before. The election is important, not only because every action taken by the State Legislature and officials can affect all Texans, including college students, but because it could affect the University.

Gov. Rick Perry has now been in office for a long time, 14 years in all. Throughout that extended tenure, he has packed every state office with his loyalists, and the UT System Board of Regents is no exception. As the state moves to a new governor, students would be wise to find a governor who will place individuals with their values on the board.

Whatever students care about, it’s a good bet that some political extension of it will be up for debate in this fall’s campaign.

Petroleum engineering students would be wise to examine how fracking is discussed in the race for railroad commissioner, while accounting students could likely get a kick out of hearing discussions over methods for estimating the state’s revenue in the comptroller’s race.

But none of these debates can be had if the candidates stray from the ambits of the jobs for which they are running and instead thump their chests on issues over which, if elected, they will have no control. State Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, the Republican nominee for comptroller, talks ad nauseum about his work in the Legislature combating abortion. Ryan Sitton, the Republican nominee for railroad commissioner, has had a field day talking up the immigration issue and castigating supporters of so-called “amnesty” along our southern border. Once again, not much to do with the job at hand.

All students with a sagacious interest in politics, Democrat or Republican, owe it to society to pressure these candidates to stay on track. There are honest debates to be had over a plethora of divisive topics, but they will only occur if the politicians stay on topic and in line. Only we can make them do that.