Primary season is in full force. Early voting started on Feb. 20, with primary elections on March 6, 2018. This first post-2016 primary has particular significance in Texas, where students and young voters are increasingly cited as making or breaking political movements in the post-Trump era. For that reason, alongside the typical importance of political participation, we want to direct students to the polls with a few standout candidates in mind.
Governor: Andrew White
This race wasn’t what we expected. Lupe Valdez started out strong with her years of exceptional public service and commitment to representing Texas’ underserved Latinx voters, but her ambiguous grasp of state policies, especially those concerning higher education funding, was more disappointing than her stunted fundraising. While Democrat Andrew White has little chance in the general election against Abbott’s $43 million ‘war chest,’ he has a clear grasp of the importance of bolstering both infrastructure and higher education that will serve Texans across the political spectrum.
Lieutenant Governor: Mike Collier
In a common theme for this editorial board, we again choose Mike Collier as Lt. Governor for his focus on higher education funding. A CPA is as good a resume fit as anything for a state position tasked with overseeing the Legislative Budget Board, but Collier has the platform and priorities for a real improvement over Dan Patrick’s blustering. Particularly, Collier casts a clear contrast with the higher-ed funding battles of last legislative session with his practical movement toward tax reform as a sustainable approach to financing public education. Furthermore, he has a clear-eyed approach to women’s health rights based in sex education and access to contraceptives, one that is all too rare among state leadership.
Land Commissioner: Miguel Suazo
We know most students have no idea who the land commissioner is or what the office does, but you should — especially this year. The Land Commissioner oversees major state assets and investments, including the Permanent School Fund, a Texas public school counterpart to the Permanent University Fund. In addition, this election’s winner will oversee continued relief and recovery along the Texas coast following Hurricane Harvey. Austin energy lawyer Miguel Suazo is the right candidate for the job for his years of practical experience— in both public service and private law firms—navigating the regulatory minefield he will be asked to oversee.
Congressional District 21: Elliot McFadden
Lamar Smith’s retirement has resulted in a mad rush by Democrats and Republicans alike for this seat, but Elliot McFadden has set himself apart in his qualifications to represent Austin students. Kopser, Crowe and McFadden all share platform points that would serve this district well, but McFadden’s demonstrated expertise in transportation infrastructure will prove critical in representing Austin as the city continues to grow. McFadden also stood out in his familiarity with higher education funding, affordable housing and a livable wage. While McFadden may face challenges in a competitive primary, we are assured his unique, Austin-centric background and higher-ed expertise make him the right representative for students.
U.S. Senate: Beto O’Rourke
A comfortable endorsement if there ever was one. After an early declaration for this race, Beto might reasonably be considered the poster candidate for Texas’ blue wave. O’Rourke’s widespread support and skyrocketing fundraising are indicative of his proven abilities as a public servant both in El Paso and in Congress. A Texan interview with O’Rourke earlier this year — also factored into this endorsement — highlighted his commitment to reducing the burden of higher education and support of DREAMers that makes O’Rourke a natural choice for students going into 2018.