The 2008 primary elections will long be remembered in Texas for the salutary effects they've had on the political process.
Record numbers of both Democrats and Republicans went to the polls. Hundreds of thousands of new voters the young and the not so young participated for the first time in democracy. People became engaged in lively discussions about issues affecting their communities, the state and the nation.
Despite all these positives, three GOP primary races also provided a vivid demonstration of why so many people are turned off by politics. And they illustrate why it's sometimes difficult to get qualified individuals to put their names on the ballot, whether for local school board or for president of the United States.
In the primary contest for Texas House District 122, Tony Kosub challenged incumbent Frank Corte by attacking his conservative credentials.
To assail the former president of the Texas Conservative Coalition and the current chairman of the House GOP caucus as not conservative enough is about as unserious as an opponent can get.
There was a similar script in the race for District 73. An independent group distributed a silly, disparaging mailout attacking one-term incumbent Nathan Macias, who last year earned Texas Monthly's designation as ”furniture” for his inconsequential presence in Austin.
Meanwhile, Macias attacked former New Braunfels Mayor Doug Miller as a closet liberal who failed to vote in Republican primaries for a decade prior to 2006.
The claim was false. Guadalupe County election records show Miller voted in every GOP primary during that period.
The worst example came from the GOP contest to select a candidate for Congressional District 23. Francisco ”Quico” Canseco ran a despicable campaign that misrepresented Lyle Larson's positions on property taxes and pay raises.
In the final days of the campaign, he dug up a two-decade-old $950 property tax lien against the estate of Larson's deceased father.
Larson has been an exemplary public servant on San Antonio City Council and Bexar County Commissioners Court. For Canseco to attempt to smear him in this way was outrageous.
The negative campaigns of Kosub and Canseco overwhelmingly failed Tuesday. Macias, despite the advantages of incumbency, lost by a thin margin. The political lesson in these outcomes is that the win-at-all-costs style of politics isn't only bad for the political process, it's also bad for the political prospects of candidates who employ it.
—San Antonio Express-News