Op-Ed: Don Huffines Run for Governor Is a Good Thing
We’re fairly apolitical at Accident News Daily. One thing we are passionate about is that the institutions and processes in government work as well as they’re designed to. This means that elections should be a time for new ideas and new leaders to emerge, then it’s up to the electorate to decide what the government’s priorities are. So while we certainly aren’t endorsing former state senator Don Huffines, we are glad that on May 10, 2021 he announced his candidacy.
In the interest of transparency, the only idea that I recall then-Sen. Huffines proposing that gained any attention was his bill to abolish vehicle inspections in Texas. There’s a compelling argument that vehicle inspections don’t do a thing to promote road safety, while inconveniencing millions of drivers every year. Sadly, the bill went nowhere, and on top of that, Sen. Huffines lost re-election.
So why should Texans applaud a Republican of some note running against the incumbent governor? Precisely because a Republican of note isn’t “waiting his turn,” but actually stepping up to the plate and giving voters a choice. While Democrats claim every election that their streak of futility in statewide elections ends this year, a decade or three goes by and the electoral action remains in the Republican primaries.
This wouldn’t be a problem but for the fact that those primaries typically give incumbents a pass. Perhaps because of the increasingly tribal nature of our politics, voters fear primaries, because they “may fracture the party,” and lead to losses in otherwise winnable elections, but such fears are unfounded. As recently as the 2016 presidential election, a candidate managed to win, despite a goat rodeo of a primary, where he insulted the physical appearance of his opponent’s wife, and suggested that the same opponent’s father killed JFK. Five months later, that opponent endorsed the man who called his wife ugly and his father an assassin.
This past presidential election, a man, who, if we could grant personhood to his Washington, D.C. tenure, it would be 15 years from collecting its first social security check, won with the support of a rival who promises “revolution.” I assume this revolution would fundamentally change the institutions his opponent spent nearly 50 years serving? The point is that in these times, the fear of dividing a party is overblown. People’s tribal distaste for “the other guy” sees to it that come November, they’re back in the fold.
In that light, serious primary challenges offer voters more choice, holding incumbent’s feet to the fire, which is a win for accountability. While Don Huffines candidacy could be great, a disaster, or somewhere in between, it’s in the best interest of everyone for serious politicians to ignore the taboo of running in primaries against incumbents. Even if you support Greg Abbott, strong primary challengers will introduce ideas that you may also like, and which the incumbent will incorporate into his agenda.
While Texans rightly take pride in their state, the key to its continued success is constant innovation. In a state dominated by a single political party, that political innovation must occur during primary season. That’s why we believe the more serious candidates in the primary, the better.