Branch stands out in AG race

02/17/2014 6:28 PM

02/17/2014 6:29 PM

From the campaign websites of the three Republican candidates for Texas attorney general, you’d think the winner of the March 4 primary faces a combat mission.

Barry Smitherman says he “stands up to the federal government to defend Texans and the Texas Constitution.”

Ken Paxton offers “bold leadership to hold the line against our out-of-control federal government as it continually encroaches on our rights and liberties.”

Dan Branch plans on “making the case far and wide that we need an advocate that will, whenever warranted, courageously fight against federal overreach to enable Texans the freedom to seek their own innovative solutions.”

They say that, of course, because Republican voters want to hear about waging war against President Barack Obama, a Democrat.

And it’s more exciting than saying, “I want to be the lawyer who represents all state agencies when they need one.”

The attorney general should examine federal laws and regulations and how they affect the people of Texas and fight back when necessary. But the day-to-day workload is significantly less glamorous.

And the really crucial point about that is what that says about the traits needed in the person who lands the job. The attorney general runs a huge law firm with more than 700 attorneys, is the state’s chief law enforcement officer and carries out such constitutionally assigned tasks as collecting court-ordered child support payments and administering the Crime Victims Compensation Fund.

It takes a well-rounded individual with a lot of knowledge about how state government works. It takes someone like Dan Branch.

Branch is a six-term state representative who has shown the marks of strong leadership since he took office in 2003. A successful Dallas attorney who represents the heart of that city, Highland Park and University Park, he has played a key role in shaping education policy.

His role as chairman of the Higher Education Committee produced his 2009 bill shifting money from other uses to help the state’s emerging research universities, including the University of Texas at Arlington.

Branch also served three terms on the Appropriations Committee. Better training on state government operations doesn’t exist.

Smitherman is chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission and former chairman of the Public Utility Commission. Paxton served six terms in the House and one in the Senate. The Republican nominee will face Democrat Sam Houston in the Nov. 4 general election.

The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends Dan Branch in the Republican primary for attorney general.

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