The county Republican runoff, wherein we elected our county judge and commissioners for precincts 2 and 4, has come and gone. Of course, the three nominees must go through the formality of the general election in November, but since they have no opposition—no Democrats chose to seek county office this year—their elections are as much a foregone conclusion as anything can be in electoral politics.
So who won and who lost?
The most obvious winners were those who got the most votes and who’ll thereby take office next January.
But what about those who came in second? Are they not the losers?
Not necessarily. True, they came in second, and won’t become officeholders come next year. But as a former political director of the Texas Republican Party–from whom I took campaign management courses in the nineties–observed, even those who fail to win their elections still score invaluable victories: They win more knowledge of themselves, their prospective constituencies, and what to do—and what not to do—in future campaigns, should they run again.
And there’s no good reason why any of those who came up short in last week’s runoff can’t make comebacks sometime in the future. All three conducted themselves well. It should not take anything away from the impressive credentials of Alfonso Campos, our next county judge, to note that his opponent, Shelby Slawson, likewise showed an impressive degree of preparation and knowledge of the issues the county must confront in upcoming years. Those who placed second in this year’s balloting for county office, as well as for city council and school board, should take heart from what I consider to be an interesting fact: Throughout the 14 years I served on the city council there was always at least one council member, and frequently as many as six, who had lost at least one city-wide or ISD-wide election before winning his or her council sheet. Who says there are no second acts in politics?
Aside from the newly-elected office holders, the real winners may be the citizens of Stephenville and Erath County. They’ve not only elected a team of able leaders, but they’ve also learned that the talent bench for county, city, and ISD leaders is pretty deep.
And perhaps the biggest losers are those citizens who chose not to vote in this year’s county and local government elections. I’ve never believed that those who fail to vote thereby forfeit their right to comment or complain about their governments. But in not voting they lost both the opportunity to help shape local civic affairs, as well as some degree of credibility should they choose to exercise their right to comment in the future.
One other set of losers deserves some mention: Political junkies who get their highs from following election campaigns, analyzing strategies and tactics, and picking apart election returns. For the next few months, we’ll be in a summertime lull, with the general election campaigns not really picking up until the fall. But surely somewhere there must be an election going on. Strategic web surfing, one hopes, will find some to allow us to continue getting our fixes.
Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present). He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014. He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.