A breakdown of early voting reveals that more Republican voters cast early ballots in McLennan County the past two weeks than Republicans and Democrats combined voted early in 2012, the last time we faced presidential contests. That’s sure evidence of the high stakes involved in this year’s elections, whether they involve the presidency, Congress or the county’s Republican Party chairmanship.

A quick rundown then of those races in which the Trib editorial board has opted to offer recommendations:

Republican presidential nominee: John Kasich. Our decision is based on the Ohio governor’s significant experience not only on Capitol Hill as a deficit-busting congressman from the Gingrich days but also as a chief executive who cut taxes and produced a budget surplus. And to accomplish much of this, Kasich reached across the aisle.     > Read more

U.S. Congress (GOP): Incumbent Bill Flores. The lawmaker and retired oil & gas executive’s business background, amiability, pragmatism and ability to grasp complicated issues ranging from health care to immigration and to reasonably discuss these with people of very different perspectives explain not only his success in Congress but his popularity back here in Central Texas.     > Read more

McLennan County commissioner, Precinct 1: Incumbent Kelly Snell. Snell and Cory Priest both strike us as conservatively grounded. Given a debate about the two candidates’ appearances that has broken out in letters, we give Priest higher marks in the looks department, but give Snell the edge in policy matters based on such strides as his longtime push for a more efficient payroll system over one that, incredibly, issued paychecks to county employees before their time worked was even verified.     > Read more

McLennan County commissioner, Precinct 3: Incumbent Will Jones. He wins our recommendation because of his push for responsible fiscal budgeting, including aggressive payment of county debt, and his efforts at greater transparency and accountability by county officials. He has supported intelligent efforts to keep individuals with mental health-related illnesses out of county lockup.     > Read more

Railroad commissioner (GOP): Lance Christian. During his comments before the McLennan County Republican Club, Lance Christian was the only GOP candidate to talk intelligently about horizontal drilling, injection wells and protecting groundwater. In short, he knew what he was talking about and didn’t feel the need to pander. Easy decision.     > Read more