The candidates on the Republican ballot may compose the weakest ticket in terms of career accomplishments the Republican party has ever laid before voters. Take the race for comptroller: The four candidates (Harvey Hilderbran, Glenn Hegar, Debra Medina, Raul Torres) have thin resumes, Hilderbran excepted (he has been chairman of the House Ways & Means committee, so at least he is familiar with the workings of the comptroller’s office). Hegar, a lawyer who lists his occupation as “farmer” on the senate website, has had little or nothing to say about his plans to strengthen the office, which could use plenty of strengthening. Torres is a CPA, but he’s running at the back of the pack because voters simply don’t know who he is. The fly in the ointment is Debra Medina, a registered nurse and a gubernatorial candidate in 2010, who is leading the pack with 39 percent in this week’s UT/Texas Tribune poll.
Dan Branch was the early leader in the race for attorney general, thanks to strong fundraising, but Ted Cruz changed the race by indicating his support for Ken Paxton. Paxton, a relatively obscure state senator who has spent his career on the far right of the spectrum, immediately soared in the polls, to the point where he is running neck-and-neck with Branch. Barry Smitherman, who is an investment banker and a former chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, is playing catch-up but has residual name I.D. from other state jobs he has held.
Another statewide office that is on the ballot is agriculture commissioner, formerly held by Staples prior to his entering the race for lieutenant governor. Again, most of the candidates are unknown. The coveted Farm Bureau endorsement went to J. Allen Carnes, the mayor of Uvalde, who actually makes his living in agriculture. Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan is also backing Carnes. Another candidate for ag commissioner is former GOP legislator Sid Miller, the House sponsor of a controversial sonogram bill several years back. Distinguishing these candidates from each other is no easy feat. The question is, can any of these candidates distinguish themselves from the others?