Labor Day is over, campaigns rev up

Published on Thursday, 4 September 2014 20:37 - Written by

Get ready. Labor Day has passed, so candidates are ramping up their efforts toward Nov. 4. Here are some things to keep in mind during the next 60 days.

The last day to register to vote in the Nov. 4 general election is Oct. 6.

Applications are available at the Election Office, 302 E. Ferguson St. in Tyler or atwww.smith county.com. As in the primary election last spring, photo identification will be required under state law.

If you have an unexpired Texas driver’s license, state identification card, Concealed Handgun License, U.S. passport, a military identification or citizenship certificate with photos — you can access ballots.

State and local election officials recommend residents with valid identification check the name listed on their preferred form against what is printed on their voter registration card to ensure names are the same.

Texas residents who are U.S. citizens and eligible to vote — but who do not have one of those forms of photo identification — can apply for Election Identification Certificates, which are free and valid for six years.

Election Identification Certificates are available at local Texas Department of Public Safety offices.

Today is also the first day voters can apply for a ballot by mail. The application is also available from the Smith County Elections Office.

The big races in this mid-term election are state-level races (at least for East Texans). We’ll elect our first new governor since 1999.

Attorney General Greg Abbott is the Republican candidate and state Sen. Wendy Davis is the Democratic candidate.

What should we be watching for in this race? Listen for the tough questions.

The Abbott and Davis camps have been haggling over debate rules. We believe it’s imperative for them to face each other in front of Texans.

For our part, we have hosted Abbott for an editorial board meeting. We continue to extend an invitation to Davis for a similar meeting.

What are those tough questions?

Here’s one: What will Abbott do differently from Gov. Rick Perry? The Texas economy is booming and we’re attracting more new jobs, new businesses and new residents than any other state. But Texas schools need improvement, the state’s infrastructure is inadequately funded and water will be an increasingly important issue. What solutions does Abbott offer?

As for Davis, is she ready to tell us which parts of the Republican-built “Texas Model” she’s willing to keep, and which she would jettison? What do her socially liberal positions mean for the state — on issues such as same-sex marriage, for example, and abortion?

In Texas, of course, the office of Lieutenant Governor is just as powerful — if not more so. It’s also an “open seat,” since Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst lost the GOP primary to state Sen. Dan Patrick. Patrick will face Democrat state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte on the November ballot.

Those are the highest profile races at the state level. Locally, there’s one contested race of note. Longtime Smith County Justice of the Peace for Precinct 1 Quincy Beavers, a Democrat, will face Republican Flor de Maria Nichols on the ballot.