By Paul A. Anthony, Editor in Chief
Students leaving the state for spring break should mark their calendars-Friday is the last day to vote early for the March 9 state primaries.
Aside from choosing among the Democratic candidates for president, several local races also will be decided the Tuesday of spring break, said Dr. Neal Coates, assistant professor of political science.
“There are certainly several races here in Taylor County where most people running for offices are running on the Republican side,” Coates said, “so Democrats will vote so they have a say in the election.”
The nearest early voting location is at United Supermarket on Judge Ely Boulevard. The voting will be conducted 10 a.m.-7 p.m. until Friday. The election is a “joint primary,” which means anyone registered can vote in every race, regardless of party affiliation.
This year’s primaries have received little publicity-partly because they occur in the middle of the four-year election cycle for most statewide offices and partly because the Democratic nomination fight between Sens. John Kerry, Mass., and John Edwards, N.C., is all but over.
Kerry already has a prohibitive lead in the nomination process and was expected to claim the vast majority of the 10 states that voted Tuesday.
Regardless of who wins the Texas primary March 9, Coates said, the Democratic nominee in November probably will not capture the state where President Bush was governor.
“You haven’t seen the Democrats very much at all in Texas,” Coates said, “because they know that their chances of winning here are not very high.”
Local races, including those for county sheriff and district judge also will be decided March 9. For sheriff, incumbent Jack Dieken is opposed by Frank Solis Jr. in a race that has sparked heated allegations. For 350th district judge, Thomas Wheeler and Curtis Tomme are facing off to fill a vacant seat.
A closely watched statewide race will be for state railroad commissioner, where former Taylor County judge Victor Carrillo is opposed by three opponents. Carrillo is the highest-ranked Hispanic Republican in Texas; many Republicans fear his loss would reinforce a negative perception of the party by minorities in the state.
Carrillo has been actively supported by the university’s Campus Republicans, who have helped him raise funds and campaign in the area.
Both the campus Republicans and Democrats, as well as the Students’ Association, have conducted registration drives in attempts to encourage students to vote in the primaries.
“College students need to vote because it’s such a good habit,” Coates said. “It’s such a good habit to select your leaders.”