The new year is barely a week old, but the Texas 2020 election season already looms large in local, state and national politics.
On Tuesday, March 3, both the Republican and Democratic parties in the Lone Star State will hold primary elections to nominate their candidates for the Nov. 3 general election. The primaries cover a wide range of federal, state and county offices, from President of the United States to county and precinct party chairs.
Already, Ellis County is accepting applications for ballots by mail; those must be received by Friday, Feb. 21. The last day to register to vote in time for the primary is Monday, Feb. 3, and the first day of early voting will be Tuesday, Feb. 18.
A separate election for municipal and school board offices will take place in May.
Ellis County has not yet completed a sample ballot for the March primaries, but it promises to be a lengthy list with 32 offices up for grabs.
At the top of the Republican ticket, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are running for re-election, while a total of 17 hopefuls to succeed Trump will be on Ellis County’s Democratic ballot.
The top four Democrats in national polling pre-Iowa caucuses are former vice president Joe Biden; U.S. senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders; and South Bend, Ind. mayor Pete Buttigieg.
While a few other states’ GOP committees moved this election season to keep challengers to Trump off their primary ballot, Trump will run in Texas against six Republicans: Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente Guerra, Zoltan G. Istvan, Matthew John Matern, Bill Weld, Joe Walsh and Bob Ely.
Weld, a former two-term governor of Massachusetts, and Walsh, a former congressman from Illinois and a popular conservative talk-show host, are the best-known of Trump’s challengers.
U.S. Senator John Cornyn and U.S. Representative Ron Wright, whose district includes Ellis County. are both running for re-election. Wright is unopposed in the GOP primary and will face Democrat Stephen Daniel in November.
Cornyn will face four statewide Republican challengers: Virgil Bierschwale, Mark Yancey, John Anthony Castro and Dwayne Stovall. On the Democratic side, a dozen challengers are vying for their party’s nomination in the general election, including state Sen. Royce West and former congressional candidate Mary “MJ” Hegar.
A lot of the action on the Ellis County primary ballots will be local, with the offices of sheriff, county attorney, tax assessor-collector, two county commissioners and four precinct constables up for grabs. Also, a judge for the newly-created County Court at Law No. 3 will be chosen.
Incumbent Charles E. “Chuck” Edge is running for re-election as Ellis County sheriff and is opposed by Charlie Daniels and Brad Norman on the Republican ballot. No Democrats filed for the sheriff’s race, so the winner of the primary is all but guaranteed to win the November general election.
County tax assessor-collector John Bridges is running unopposed. The open four-year term of county attorney is being contested by Julissa Martinez and Ann Montgomery, after current DA Patrick Wilson decided last year not to seek re-election.
The four-year terms of Precinct 1 Commissioner Randy Stinson and Precinct 3 Commissioner Paul Perry are up, and both are seeking re-election. Stinson is unopposed, while Perry is being challenged by Richard Rozier in the GOP primary.
All four county constables — Roy Callender, Terry Nay, Curtis Polk Jr. and Mike Jones — are running unopposed and have no general election opposition. Polk, notably, is the only Democratic incumbent on the Ellis County primary ballot.
The judgeship on the new County Court at Law No. 3 is being contested by Republicans Joseph R. “Joe” Gallo and Vance Hinds. The new court will convene in January 2021.
In state legislative races, Republicans have lined up to fill the open House District 10 seat that is being vacated by Republican John Wray, who announced last year that he will retire at the end of this term. Robert “Zack” Rader, Jake Ellzey and Ryan Pitts are vying for the Republican nomination to replace Wray. No Democrats filed for the office.
State Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) is unopposed for re-nomination in Senate District 22 and will face Democrat Robert Vick in the November general election. Birdwell was first elected in 2010.
Most of the statewide offices up for election in 2020 are judicial positions, with the exception of Railroad Commissioner, a six-year term in which incumbent Ryan Sitton is running again. Sitton is being challenged by James Wright on the GOP ballot, while four Democrats — Roberto Alonzo, Chrysta Castaneda, Kelly Stone and Mark Watson — are vying for that party’s nomination.
William (Doug) Wallace is unopposed for the 378th Judicial District bench, and Cindy Ermatinger is unopposed in the 443rd Judicial District.