Primaries are here — and not just for the president
Early voting ends this Friday, Feb. 28 and Election Day is next Tuesday, March 3. If you have the privilege of being registered to vote, get out the vote on behalf of yourself, your communities and everyone who is institutionally excluded from our election processes. Political apathy is rampant in this country and on our campus with only 42 percent voter turnout last year. But we urge you to care. Our future will be shaped by the people we elect to office and the decisions they make regarding the issues we talk about, protest for and care about.
Preparing to vote goes beyond being informed on your choice for your party’s presidential nominee — there are 63 local and statewide races on the ballot for you to vote on. If you chose to register to vote in Texas, you must also be informed on those races. Your vote will affect the surrounding community for much longer than the four years you’re here. Print or write your picks before entering the polls — Texas typically doesn’t allow you to pull out your phone in the voting booth.
We are not endorsing candidates for this election, but we hope to provide more information on the roles of these elected officials and the implications of the possible ballot choices.
Texas U.S. Senator
The incumbent is Senator John Cornyn (R). He faces four Republican challengers and 12 Democrats vying for the party nomination. According to the Texas Tribune, Cornyn is widely expected to win his party’s nomination and will likely face one of the top six Democratic candidates who have at least 3 percent support in a Texas Tribune poll and have raised at least $100,000: Chris Bell, Amanda Edwards, MJ Hegar, Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, Royce West and Sema Hernandez. Read the Texas Tribune voter guide (linked online) to understand where the Democratic candidates fall on almost every issue or watch the Democratic candidate debate and read the Tribune’s coverage.
U.S. Representative, District 2
The incumbent is Representative Dan Crenshaw (R) who won in 2018 with 52.8 percent of the vote. The Republican primary is uncontested, but three Democrats are vying for the party’s nomination. Democratic challengers Elisa Cardnell, Sima Ladjevardian and Travis Olsen all offer compelling reasons why they should be the party’s nominee in an attempt to beat him. To learn more about their policies, you can look at ballotpedia or vote411.org.
Texas Railroad Commissioner
The incumbent is Ryan Sitton (R), who faces one Republican challenger and four Democrats vying for party nomination. Sitton is one of three commissioners, who serve for six years. The name is misleading — they regulate the energy industry, including policies regarding pollution prevention, gas utility rates and alternative fuels. This position has historically been competitive, with a Republican winning the 2018 commissioner race by 53.2 percent.
More from The Rice Thresher
When we ran for our Student Association executive team positions and defined our platforms, we did not anticipate the arrival of COVID-19. Due to these unusual circumstances, we as members of the executive team have been rapidly thrust into our roles. We have relayed student concerns to administrators and have made an effort to amplify student voices as much as possible. We have been strategizing how we can best communicate with all of the Rice community during the coming weeks as we resume our virtual classwork. But throughout it all, one question has remained on our minds: How can we establish and maintain an intimate, engaging Rice culture and connection while members of the Rice community are so physically distant from each other?
Last week, we urged the administration to grant students academic accommodations in light of the unprecedented era we are existing in. That happened the next day, when the Faculty Senate voted unanimously in favor of a series of motions intended to alleviate the weight of academics on undergraduates this semester, including one that allows students to designate all courses this semester pass/fail. We applaud the administration for taking such an important step in doing right by students as we try to navigate the rest of our semester remotely.
We’ve seen it happen time and again: clambering for attention in our click-driven world, major news outlets cherry-pick sensational stories and dramatize their headlines. This tactic has blown countless news stories out of proportion — but COVID-19 isn’t one of them.