Former U.S. Ambassador Alan Keyes and Sen. Joe Biden are the front runners for the March Primary in Cooke County.

How so? They didn’t win a poll, and one withdrew from the race recently. They were selected by a drawing to head the ballot on the Republican and Democratic primary elections locally.

In a meeting Wednesday night, the Cooke County Republican Party executive committee drew names for ballot placement at the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce building, followed by the Democratic executive committee 4 p.m. Thursday at the North Central Texas College Library conference room.

The Democrats popped balloons, each containing the name of a presidential candidate. The rest were drawn from folded slips of paper on a tabletop.

“They’re blue because we hope Texas will turn blue again soon,” Melugin said of the balloons, referring to a recent trend of naming states “red” for predominately Republican and “blue” for predominately Democrat.

As of now, Texas is considered a “red state.”

Melugin had the eldest person at the Democrat meeting pop the balloons — Juanita Leach, the mother of Democratic Congressional candidate Ken Leach of Gainesville.

The Republicans drew from a hat, according to Cooke County GOP Party Administrator Bob Eggleston.

Eggleston said the executive committee welcomed three new precinct chairman at the meeting: Josh Brinkley, Dale Matley and Michael Stockwell.

With a very contested election this year, several forums have been scheduled.

Sandra Currie, of the Cooke County League of Women Voters, said on Feb. 11 at First Christian Church fellowship hall, her organization plans to have all of the candidates appearing on the ballot speak, as is traditional. However, the meeting may last about three hours.

“We’re going to try to move the meeting along,” Currie said, noting the group will limit introductions and speaking time somewhat.

Other forums include:

Jan. 28 — Republican Eagle Club (for GOP District Judge, District Attorney and Sheriff candidates), Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce building.

Feb. 4 — Callisburg Community forum (details TBA).

Feb. 7 — Cooke County Republican Women (for all GOP candidates).

Feb. 11 — League of Women Voters forum, (see above).

Feb. 25 — Republican Eagle Club (for GOP County Attorney and Commissioner candidates), Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce building.

On Thursday evening the Cooke County Democratic Club had Ben Thurman, its sole candidate for Sheriff, speak at their monthly meeting at the Neu Ranch House restaurant.

On the Republican side, Chris Fostel, candidate for District Attorney, hosted a fund-raising dinner in Fort Worth.

Other forums and speaking engagements have been scheduled. See the Register for more details as they are set. To report a campaign event, call the Register at 665-5511 ext. 20.

* * *

Below are the orders in which names will appear on Cooke County primary ballots.

President/Vice President

Republican — Alan Keyes, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Duncan Hunter, Ron Paul, Rudy Giuliani, Hoa Tran, Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson, Hugh Cort.

Democrat — Joseph Biden (withdrew), Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Bill Richardson (withdrew), Chris Dodd.

U.S. Senator

Republican — Larry Kilgore, John Cornyn (i).

Democrat — Rhett Smith, Gene Kelly, Rick Noriega, Ray McMurrey.

U.S. Representative District 13 (precincts mostly in Western Cooke County, including 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 21 and 33).

Republican — Mac Thornberry (i).

Democrat — Roger James Waun.

U.S. Representative District 26 (precincts mostly in eastern Cooke County, including 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 20, 22, 30, 34, 35 and 37).

Republican — Michael Burgess (i).

Democrat — Ken Leach.

Railroad Commissioner

Republican — Michael L. Williams (i).

Democrat — Art Hall, Dale Henry, Mark Thompson.

Chief Justice, Texas Supreme Court

Republican — Wallace B. Jefferson (i).

Democrat — Jim Jordan.

Justice, Supreme Court, Place 7

Republican — Dale Wainwright (i).

Democrat — Sam Houston, Baltasar Cruz.

Justice, Supreme Court, Place 8

Republican — Phil Johnson.

Democrat — Linda Reyna Yanez, Susan Criss.

Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 3

Republican — Tom Price.

Democrat — Susan Strawn.

Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 4

Republican — Paul Womack.

Democrat — J.R. Molina.

Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 9

Republican — Cathy Cochran.

Member, State Board of Education, District 14

Republican — Gail Lowe (i).

Democrat — Edra Bogle.

Texas Senator, District 30

Republican — Craig Estes (i), Charles R. Stafford.

Texas Representative, District 68

Republican — Rick Hardcastle (i).

Justice, Second Court of Appeals District, Place 2

Republican — Bill Meier, Deeia Beck, Barcus “Barc” Hunter.

Justice, Second Court of Appeals District, Place 7

Republican — Terrie Livingston (i).

District Judge, 235th Judicial District

Republican — Martin Peterson, Janelle M. Haverkamp (i).

District Attorney, 235th Judicial District

Republican — Chris Fostel, Janice Warder, Cindy Stormer (i).

County Attorney

Republican — Frieda Fiske, Tanya S. Davis (i).

Tax Assessor-Collector

Republican — Billie Jean Knight (i).

Sheriff

Republican — Ken Fogus, Michael E. (Mike) Compton (i).

Democrat — Ben Thurman.

Commissioner Precinct 1 (northeastern Cooke County, including precincts 4, 6, 7, 9 and 37).

Republican — Wayne Dodson, Gary Hollowell (i).

Commissioner Precinct 3 (southwestern Cooke County, including precincts 1, 3, 5, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19 and 30).

Republican — Al Smith (i).

Constable Precinct 1 (precincts in northern Cooke County, including 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 18, 19, 20, 21, 30, 33, 34, 35 and 37).

Republican — Terry Gilbert (i).

Constable Precinct 4 (precincts in southern Cooke County, including 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17 and 22)

Republican — Dick Roth.

Democrat — Royce Martin.

County Party Chairman

Republican — Robert Eggleston.

Democrat — Ron Melugin.

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