It didn’t take long.

Even before filing for next year’s election officially opened, several incumbents up for re-election drew opponents.

In the race for county commissioner of precinct 4, three Republican hopefuls have tossed their hat into the ring to challenge Democratic incumbent Randy Lowe.  But first, they must face off against each other in the March 2 primary.

“Precinct 4 is already pretty busy,” said John Springer, Erath County Republican Party chairman.

Springer said he received applications to run in the commissioner’s race from Stephen Peterson, Scot Jackson and Jim Buck. 

But those weren’t the only ones he has heard from.

Local attorney Heath Allen announced Tuesday at a Republican Party meeting that he will challenge County Court at Law Judge Bart McDougal. 

Allen said he is running in hopes of bringing “efficiency” to the court.

“Not everybody can leave court a winner, but everyone should leave court knowing where they stand,” Allen said. “I will be fair, swift and knowledgeable in administering justice for the people of Erath County.” 

McDougal has served as the county court at law judge since February 1993, when the court was first created in Erath County. This will be the first time McDougal has drawn an opponent, but said he will campaign to keep his seat.

“I always tell people that I am the best county court at law judge we’ve ever had,” McDougal said.

McDougal, who was formerly listed as a Democrat, said he will run as a Republican.

McDougal, however, isn’t the only local judge facing a challenge.

Both justices of the peace have drawn opponents. Republican candidate Bart Greenway will challenge Democratic incumbent Latrelle Cain (precinct 2), and Jeff “Chili” Alexander, a Republican, will challenge Republican incumbent Shawnee Bass (precincts 1, 3 and 4). This is the second time Alexander and Bass have met in the political arena. In 2006, Bass edged out Alexander by only 12 votes in a runoff during the Republican Primary.

Alexander, a sergeant with the Tarleton State University Police Department, said he is looking forward to another campaign.

“I came so close last time that I thought I would give it another try,” Alexander said. “This is something I’ve always wanted to do after my law enforcement career.”

Erath County Democratic Chairman Sam Hirst-Wade said Wednesday that he has not received any applications from prospective candidates.

Other incumbents up for re-election include  District Court Judge Don Jones (Democrat), District Clerk Wanda Pringle (Republican), County Judge Tab Thompson (Republican), County Treasurer Donna Kelly (Democrat), County Clerk Gwinda Jones (Republican) and County Commissioner precinct 2 Lynn Tidwell (Democrat).

When contacted about their re-election bid, all of the incumbents said they will seek another term.

Filing officially gets under way at 8 a.m. today. The last day to file is Jan. 4, 2010.

Election Day is Nov. 2.