Good for you Smokin T!
One of the first things I will mention, is that you will not be able to use your MES for competition. at least not for KCBS (Kansas City Barbecue Society) sanctioned comps (you mentioned LA State Competitions, so you're most likely talking about a KCBS event.) Their rules state that your fuel source, as well as your smoke of choice must be wood. Your electric element in the MES is your heat source, so would not be allowed. There are many who use the various pellet smokers which are allowed. The pellet smokers use electricity to ignite the fire, run the auger that supplies the pellets to the fire pot, and even run a fan that stokes the fire. However, the heat source is still wood, in this case, burning wood pellets. therefore is legal.
KCBS events judge on four different meats, chicken, ribs, brisket and pork (pulled, chopped, etc). Most competitors don't cook only one meat per category, but several racks of ribs, briskets, pork shoulders or butts, etc, so that they can turn in the best 6 samples in each category. Obviously this will add to your expenses. Your entries are judged on appearance, taste and texture by 6 judges at one table.
I would encourage you to check out the KCBS, and investigate the possibility of becoming a Certified BBQ Judge. That's a good way to learn the rules and learn what judges look for in award winning BBQ. It would be something you could do with your dad and brother. Back in September, I judged a contest at Bikes, Blues and BBQ in Fayetteville Arkansas. There was a 16 y/o gentleman at my table that had judged in excess of 20 competitions. He and his Dad participate in judging together.
Depending on the local sponsors, many contests feature a back yard BBQ contest along with the sanctioned events. That would be a good way to get your feet wet before tackling the big contests.
You don't necessarily need to spend many thousands of dollars to do well in competition BBQ. Many have been quite successful with less expensive smokers, both homemade and commercially made in every configuration imaginable. All you need is something that holds your heat at a consistent temperature and allow your meats to hang out in a low and slow smoky environment. This forum is a wealth of knowledge on modifications to make your particular type of smoker more efficient so it holds heat, conserves your fuel and imparts a great flavor to your food. (might even allow you to get a little sleep instead of tending the pit all night!)
Jump right in, learn all you can from all the sources you can find.. Ask questions. Visit some competitions. Most teams would be glad to show you their set up and talk to you. One thing though, make you visit early on a Friday evening before the teams start firing their pits, prepping their meats, etc. After that, most teams aren't in the talking mood!
Keep us informed on how you're doing!