It inevitably happens during the campaign season. It’s the call in which someone who had been completely radio-silent suddenly expects a last-minute endorsement because an opponent is “so bad.”

Sorry, but we don’t endorse against people. Heck, we don’t even endorse in every race where there are possibly some good candidates running.

It’s not enough to be running against a bad candidate, there needs to be a good alternative.

Case in point: House District 50. This is an open-seat race that kicked off in August with the resignation of Democrat Mark Strama. A multi-candidate special-election was held in early November featuring several Democrats and one Republican. The top two candidates face-off tomorrow, the Republican and one of the Democrats.

Starting in September the TFR team sent out our exhaustive questionnaire in accordance with our process to all the candidates, but heard nothing back from the Republican’s campaign team. (I even live in HD50, and heard almost nothing about the candidate or the campaign in the community — a reflection on the candidate, to be sure, but even more so on the consultants he had working for him.)

The TFR team sent a last round of “here is the questionnaire” notices to the remaining HD50 candidates after the November election but got nothing back, so we dropped it from our list of interested races. We have a clear policy when it comes to endorsements, and we don’t pursue candidates.

So imagine my surprise when the telephone rang today, with the Republican running in HD50 suddenly wanting us to be involved — less than 24 hours out.

Yes, I know the Democrat supports an income tax. But, I also cannot find anywhere in writing where the Republican’s campaign has offered anything more than a few talking points about why he should be elected — other than the fact he is a “Republican.”

The days of endorsing Republicans because they aren’t Democrats is long past. We need governing conservatives, not DEMs-lite; we’re all full up on that, thank you.

Texas is being turned purple — Republican in name, liberal in policy — precisely because we’ve all been too busy focusing on Elephants versus Donkeys instead of having substantive policy discussions with candidates prior to their primaries. We have allowed philosophically vacuous candidates offer up conservative pablum without delving into the depths of their beliefs and practical positions on specific policy solutions. Remember: it wasn’t Democrats who increased state spending 25 percent between 2011 and 2013, it was a “Republican” majority led by House Speaker Joe Straus and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

Now, I have no reason to believe anything bad about the Republican candidate (except perhaps that he has a lazy or irresponsible campaign team). Indeed, he might be a great guy and philosophically conservative. Unfortunately, his campaign consultants didn’t even bother to show that until less than 24 hours before election day.

He deserved better from his team, and — frankly — so do all Texans concerned about substantively improving the Lone Star State.

Texans are a deeply conservative people, and we deserve something better than “we’re not Democrats” as a reason to be for someone. Texans are also an equally practical people, and deserve to be shown what candidates will actually do if elected.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and an Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, and think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a dog. Michael is the author of three books, including "Reflections on Life and Liberty."