COMMENTARY: 2018 elections and private property rights


Having served as a cattle raisers officer for almost six years, I have had the privilege of meeting many of our state and federal elected officials. I’ve been impressed with the commitment that many have shown to protecting the property rights of ranchers and landowners, and have been confounded by the lack of understanding others have had on this fundamental issue.

I can honestly say that I have seen and worked with the consequences of elections and I am more convinced than ever that every election is worthy of our participation.

It is so important that we vote men and women into office who recognize the importance of private property rights and the value ranchers and landowners provide to the public.

Early voting begins today (Feb. 20) for the Republican and Democratic primaries.

Election Day is March 6.

The winners of these primaries will go on to run in the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

On the ballot during this mid-term election year are Democratic and Republican candidates for: U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, Texas House of Representatives, Texas Senate, Texas governor, Texas lieutenant governor, Texas attorney general, Texas comptroller, General Land Office commissioner, agricultural commissioner, railroad commissioners and the Texas Supreme Court.

If you kept up with political news from the Texas Capitol last year, you’ll remember that Texas House Speaker Joe Straus and a number of other legislators have taken the opportunity to retire and move to the next part of their lives.

That means there are a number of open seats to fill in this election. In some districts in Texas, we won’t be voting for an incumbent versus a challenger. We will have two or more fresh faces competing for office.

In those races, it’s even more important to vet the candidates who will represent you to ensure they share your values.

There also are many vacancies in Washington, D.C., especially in the U.S. House of Representatives.

We have a similar situation taking place on the national level, where retirements and resignations are opening the door for new candidates.

The primary election allows voters to learn about the fundamental differences between candidates within the same party. We get to decide if that candidate’s views complement our views, and if that candidate’s personality indicates his or her effectiveness as a negotiator on our behalf. When considering who to support, I ask you to consider using the eminent domain issue as one of your deciding factors. We will continue to work on eminent domain reform in the 2019 session of the Texas Legislature.

One of the lessons we learned from the 2017 effort on eminent domain reform is that we need legislators to support additional protections to ensure ranchers and landowners are not taken advantage of in the eminent domain process.

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) Political Action Committee has proposed a list of recommended candidates for TSCRA members to consider.

These recommendations are available to members online.

Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, the recommendations have something to offer. TSCRA volunteers and staff work on both sides of the aisle to accomplish what is necessary, and to protect ranchers and landowners.

Voting in the upcoming primary election is important.

It will determine, in large part, the issues that are discussed in the 2019 Texas Legislative session, and our ability, as ranchers and landowners, to influence the outcome of those issues — especially when it comes to eminent domain reform and other private property right issues.

Take advantage of this valuable opportunity to ensure our property rights and our way of life are protected for future generations. I urge everyone to make your vote count, both in the primaries and again in the November general election.

Richard Thorpe is the president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.