Election hopefuls in Denton County are getting an early jump on the campaign trail.
A number of men and women have publicly announced their intentions to run for office in the 2014 elections — an action that some say is a necessity for voters to get to know them if they have any hope of challenging incumbents.
“When you’re running against an incumbent, you can’t start too early,” attorney Hank Paine said.
Paine, a Republican, recently held a gathering outside the Courthouse on the Square to announce his candidacy for district attorney.
“The other person running has been doing so since last summer,” Paine said. “I’m late to the game. I’m trying to get my name out there and trying to get people to look at the issues.”
Paine said he has received a lot of positive reaction from people since his intentions came to light and has received commitments from some to help with his campaign.
The opponent to whom Paine referred is fellow Republican Karen Alexander, who announced in July her intent to challenge the sitting district attorney. She said that as a voter she likes to know a candidate beyond what they say in debates, newspaper interviews or the days leading up to the election.
“To know someone takes time. I wanted to put myself out there as early as possible, and if anyone wants to get to know me, they can do so.”
Denton County District Attorney Paul Johnson said he felt that Paine and Alexander’s announcements were early, recalling that when he ran for the seat, he announced around November and the official filing period, closer to the election cycle.
“Then again, I had the advantage that I had been involved with the party,” he said. “I can’t speculate as to why people announce they are running when they do. I would just say I have been active in the party and politics since 1997. Maybe they [feel] they are playing catch-up.”
Any candidate or resident interested in pursuing political office has to file a campaign treasurer form with the Denton County Elections Office before they can spend any money campaigning.
The filing period for the March primary election is Nov. 9 to Dec. 9.
Phyllis Wolper, Denton County Democratic Party leader, said that while there are some rumblings from possible candidates, the only Democrat who has made an announcement this early is Mary Brown, who again will challenge Myra Crownover for the District 63 seat in the state House.
Wolper’s Republican counterpart, Dianne Edmondson, said some candidates like to get a jump early on and let people know they are running and that there is an alternative to the person in that office.
Edmondson said that while neither Paine nor Alexander did so, a candidate can make an announcement too early.
“One time a candidate announced in January or February, and there was a May city council election and people thought she was running for that rather than the primary for the following year,” Edmondson said. “I have not heard any [present] confusion.”
Edmondson said people including Paul Moore, Brody Shanklin, Coby Waddill and Victor Rivera have announced they are running for various positions in the county.
Edmondson said it is encouraging when candidates who announce early also are making a greater effort to attend party-related meetings and events and interact with party advocates.
“It makes them think you are interested in promoting the party and not just your election. We know the [candidates] and we know ... [if they are] truthful, honest, a source of integrity.”
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.