Political wrangling over voting district maps stalled the primary election, but voters will finally get the opportunity to choose which candidates will represent the Republican Party on May 29.
Just as incumbents and challengers have lined up to face off for a shot at gaining the Republican nomination in a number of county offices, including sheriff, constables and commissioners, other candidates are gearing up to gain nominations in state and federal arenas.
In Erath County, officials will essentially be elected during the primary or subsequent run off election since the Democratic Party failed to attract candidates.
On the state level, there is no lack of candidates.
Representative Sid Miller (R-Stephenville) has drawn two Republican opponents. And one local Democrat will face the winner of that race in November.
The new precinct map, which commissioners recently approved, includes two federal representatives - Districts 11 and 25 - representing the estimated 38,000 residents residing in the county.
State Representative District 59
As a resident and local businessman with strong ties to the agriculture industry, Miller is no stranger to Erath. He is seeking his seventh term representing the district, which encompasses Erath, Comanche, Mills, Hamilton, Coryell and Somervell counties.
He is a founding member of the Legislative Tea Party Caucus and serves as a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Education Task Force. He also holds memberships in a number of caucuses and coalitions, including the House Rural Caucus and House Veterans and Military Affairs Coalition and the bi-partisan Conservative Coalition.
Meanwhile, Mike Jones (R-Glen Rose) and J.D. Sheffield (R-Gatesville) are hoping to oust Miller.
Jones, a veteran of the U.S. Army and veterinarian who has resided in Glen Rose since 1984, told the Glen Rose Reporter his top legislative concerns include the agricultural industry, bioterrorism and Texas cattle, border security, school finance reform, tax reform and fair taxation and term limits.
Sheffield, a longtime physician and medical director at Coryell Medical Clinic, issued a similar challenge to Miller in March 2010 but failed to gain the nomination. In Erath County, he received less than 35 percent of the vote. District-wide, he was able to garner a little more than 44 percent.
His campaign website, jdfortexas.com, states he opposes "Obama's attack on our healthcare freedom" and vows to stop "skyrocketing tuition" at public universities.
After the primary election has decided which of the Republicans will be on the Nov. 6 ballot, the name of another Erath resident will be seen on the ballot.
Bill Norris (D-Dublin) says he has two main reasons he is giving politics a shot.
"Kyra, age 5, and Rylee, age 2," Norris said. "They are my granddaughters, and I am dedicating my campaign to them. I can no longer sit on the sidelines while they, and all Texas school children, have their educations taken from them. "
He said Texas’ 82nd Legislature left public schools overburdened and underfunded.
"My goal is to restore funding to Texas schools so that every child will have free and equal access to a quality education," Norris said. "This will be a grassroots campaign. I’m sure it will be a difficult and uphill battle, but I believe the cause is just and moral. I am up to the fight and will give it my best. Our children deserve no less."
United States Representative, District 11
The northern parts of the county and Stephenville and the city of Dublin fall within District 11. It spans more than two dozen counties including Comanche, Brown, Eastland and Palo Pinto and stretches to the New Mexico border with a staggered southern border that includes Midland, Ector, Tom Green, Kimble Llano and a number of other counties.
Three Republicans, including Midland incumbent Mike Conaway and Brown County resident Wade Brown, (R-May) and
Chris Younts, (R-San Angelo) have filed to run.
Congressman Conaway is serving in his fourth term. An experienced CPA, he resumed his career with Price Waterhouse & Company after serving in the Army at Fort Hood. He also worked with George W. Bush as the Chief Financial Officer for Bush Exploration.
Brown is a major in the Marine Corps Reserve and serves with Marine Aircraft Group-41 in Fort Worth. He said his filing was “the culmination of a decision I made a year and a half ago while deployed to Africa,” and he is "concerned about the burgeoning national debt."
Younts, an independent insurance agent, said he "he has gained well seasoned knowledge" of the industry, which he says is ineffective and should be addressed.
He was among a number of concerned business owners who joined forces in to form the San Angelo Tea Party, according to chrisyounts.com.
Jim Riley, D-San Angelo will face off against the primary winner for the seat in November.
United States Representative, District 25
There is nearly a candidate for every county included in the newly redrawn District 25, which is home to the state capitol, University of Texas at Austin, Fort Hood and Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant. The district winds through more than a dozen counties with 12 Republicans filing for a place on the ballot.
There is no incumbent in the race after Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin)sa decided to seek re-election in another district.
Locally, the district will draw in voters from the southern parts of Erath County and Stephenville.
Candidates who will face off for the Republican nomination include:
• Ernie Beltz, Jr. (R- Austin) worked as a veterans' employment program manager for the U.S. Treasury Department and founded the nonprofit Warrior Transition Project
• Bill Burch (R-Grand Prairie) heads the Grass Roots Institute of Texas, a political action committee.
• Dianne Costa is a former council member and mayor in Highland Village.
• James Dillon (R-Liberty Hill), political hopeful who has run for various seats as both a Republican and Democratic candidate.
• Dave Garrison (R-Austin) is a former executive with Halliburton and USAA.
• Justin Hewlett is the current mayor Cleburne.
• Charlie Holcolmb (R-Wimberley) served on the 12th Court of Criminal Appeals in Tyler, as Cherokee County district attorney and county attorney and as city attorney for Deer Park and Orange.
• Brian Matthews (R-Austin) calls himself a "constitutional conservative" and advocate of strong national security, free enterprise and freedom.
• Wes Riddle (R-Gatesville), a retired Army officer and educator who taught at West Point and at Central Texas College. He is also a small business owner.
• Chad Wilbanks (R-Austin) is a former executive director of the Texas Republican Party and the owner of a public relations firm.
• Michael Williams (R-Austin) is a former Texas Railroad commissioner.
• Roger Williams (R-Weatherford), former secretary of state from 2004 until 2007.
The winner of the May 29 primary will face a challenge from Elaine M. Henderson (D-Lago Vista in November.
Early voting will be held Monday, May 14 - Friday, May 25. The primary is Tuesday, May 29. The last day to register to vote is Monday, April 30.