March 12 primary

For a full version of the Chronicle endorsements, see the Feb. 22 issue onaustinchronicle.com. We urge all of our readers to vote in the primary of their choice. Early voting in Travis County continues through Friday, March 8.

U.S. Senate (Dem): Ron Kirk

The candidacy of Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk represents a historical payback for the Democratic Party's too often cynical reliance on African-American voters as an unwavering base. Their votes could also make the difference in a close November election. If you want to help build a Democratic ticket that not only reflects the real Texas -- but actually has a chance to represent it -- vote for Ron Kirk.

U.S. Congress, District 10 (Dem): Lloyd Doggett

Having survived redistricting, Doggett now has to survive Jennifer Gale. He undoubtedly will -- and perhaps he can use his now unassailable Congressional redoubt to carry necessary legislation nobody else from Texas will touch.

Governor (Dem): Tony Sanchez

Tony Sanchez has begun to sound like an actual Democrat, with a healthy emphasis on education and health care, and even a willingness to take on such sacred state cows as the insurance industry and the already gargantuan prison budget. He could help create the space where a revival of the Texas Democratic Party, initially fueled by minority-soon-to-be-majority voters, might begin to take place.

Land Commissioner (Dem): David Bernsen

Beaumont Sen. Bernsen has the legislative and policy experience to return the General Land Office to being an important public resource, as it was under Garry Mauro.

Agricultural Commissioner (Dem): Tom Ramsay

Mt. Vernon Rep. knows his way around the Capitol well enough to advance the interests of Texas farmers and ranchers. Texas ag policy could use a little direct, unpoliticized attention.

Railroad Commissioner (Dem): Sherry Boyles

Boyles proposes merging the RRC and Public Utility Commission, a sensible and overdue idea. We should get started.

Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 2 (Dem): Julius Whittier

Whittier has extensive experience as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney, and holds promise of moving the court away from its current "hang 'em high" extremism toward more straightforward, balanced justice.

State Rep., District 50 (Dem): Jim Sylvester

Sylvester's experience working at the Capitol on crucial issues, particularly family violence, and his beat as a Travis County sheriff's deputy give him an edge in this new, leans-GOP, low-turnout, swing district.

State Rep., District 51 (Dem): Eddie Rodriguez and Lulu Flores

Rodriguez, Rep. Glen Maxey's former chief of staff, promises to fill his boss' shoes fighting for progressive causes, but Flores has something of an edge in Capitol experience. We expect a runoff, and we'll revisit this endorsement then.

Travis County Judge (Dem): Sam Biscoe

During his four years as county judge, Biscoe has demonstrated fiscal leadership on budget matters and a willingness to listen to opposing views.

County Commissioner, Pct. 2 (Dem): Karen Sonleitner

As a two-time incumbent, Sonleitner has a broad understanding of how county government functions, knowledge which will serve her well going into a third term. We expect her to be more attentive to the wishes of her newly redistricted Central City constituents, but we're willing to let her show us what she says she's really made of -- as she did when she helped push the SH 130 route eastward, away from neighborhoods and schools, or with her recent CAMPO vote against SH 45 South.

County Commissioner, Pct. 3 (Rep): Ira Yates

We're endorsing Yates, because we believe his rancher-conservationist sensibilities are closely aligned with our own -- that is, Yates seeks to protect property rights while preserving the natural heritage of the Hill Country.

County Commissioner, Pct. 4 (Dem): Margaret Gómez

Gómez has shown sensitivity to those of her constituents who live on low or fixed incomes, as demonstrated last fall when she parted company with the commission majority and voted against a $199.3 million county bond package -- and the property tax increase that went with it.

County Court-at-Law No. 7 (Dem): Evelyn McKee

McKee has 13 years of bench experience in municipal courts. She's the city's presiding municipal judge, and our endorsement goes to the more experienced candidate.

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