The information below is a modified excerpt from an email blast that I wound up not sending to Green Party fans in Harris County today. But it sums up what 2016 is going to look like for us Green folk in the Houston area and across Texas. To put it succinctly, if we want to guarantee Green presence on the 2018 ballot, we'll need to campaign our asses off in 2016.
Here is what I'm sacrificing a goodly chunk of my social life for in the coming year.
General MeetingsThe HCGP General Business Meetings continue to be held the fourth Monday of each month, beginning at 7 pm. Currently, the location for these meetings is Trinity Episcopal Church, 1015 Holman Street in Midtown. We meet upstairs in the choir rehearsal room. The meeting for 22 February will be very important, as we hope to ratify changes to our bylaws and elect news members to our Steering Committee. Come see people-powered political organizing in action!
Community GatheringsHCGP's Outreach Workgroup is beginning a new initiative called Green Community Gatherings. The plan is to combine the best ingredients of General Business Meetings and the G3 discussion groups. We hope to bring in community leaders from various organizations to provide tools and techniques for creating the world we envision, with politics and economy based on compassion. The first gathering is scheduled for 8 February, continuing on the second Monday of alternating months. The location is yet to be determined; we will let you know when we have it officially set.
Candidates for 2016In Texas, the deadline to file the forms to run for office in 2016 happened in mid-December 2015. (Remember that if you intend to run for office in 2018.) Statewide, nearly 50 Greens filed to run for various federal, state, and county positions. (NOTE: I am not one of the 50.) As of now, in Harris County, we have:
- two candidates for county-wide offices
- six candidates for statewide offices, including Railroad Commission and five of the judicial positions up for election
- two candidates for the Texas House and one for the State Board of Education
- four candidates for the US House from districts wholly or partly in the county
5% in a Four-Way RaceHere is the most important news of all: In order to guarantee a ballot line in Texas in 2018, a Green Party candidate must win at least 5% of the vote in a statewide race*. The Democratic Party has candidates in all the statewide races for Railroad Commission, Supreme Court, and Court of Criminal Appeals. Since 2000, the best Texas Green polling against both major parties in a statewide race is about 2%. Martina Salinas got that 2% when she ran for a Railroad Commission seat in 2014. Now for the good news: She has filed to run again in 2016. 5% is attainable, but it will require some People Power. Are you ready to be part of that effort?
Local and State Nominating ConventionsWe will announce the locations and times for our precinct, county, and district nominating conventions soon. The state convention will happen in San Antonio. The dates below are according to the Texas Secretary of State's calendar and cannot be changed.
- Precinct Conventions will happen all in one location Tuesday 8 March. We will nominate precinct chairs and delegates to the County Convention.
- The County Conventions will take place Saturday 12 March. We will officially nominate candidates for county offices, seats in the Texas House, and Congressional seats wholly within Harris County, as well as delegates to the State Convention.
- District Conventions, happening Saturday 19 March, are for nominating candidates for positions that represent more than one county, such as US House District 36.
- The GPTX State Convention returns to San Antonio, where the Party held its 2012 Convention. This will take place over the weekend of 9 April.
Presidential Nominating Convention at UHThere is nothing like a national convention to help "political minorities" like us remember that we are not alone! The Green Party of the United States comes to Houston 4-7 August, convening at the University of Houston to nominate its presidential ticket. Of course, there will be much more to it than that: finalizing the national platform, organizing workshops, appearances by progressive activists and writers, fundraising activities, and a protest demonstration or two. There are volunteering opportunities aplenty. Come to one of our monthly meetings to learn more.
* The consequence of failing to poll 5% in at least one statewide race is not fun at all. Within a 75-day period after the 2018 primary elections, the Green Party of Texas would need to collect about 47,000 signatures from voters registered in Texas who skip primaries.
You'd think that would be easy, since only about 15% of registered voters typically vote in off-year primaries. That leaves about 10 million who don't. But it's surprisingly difficult: GPTX succeeded in 2000 and 2010, but fell short in 2004, '06, and most painfully in '08. The 2010 drive succeeded mostly because we were able to pay people to collect signatures. The hardest part is convincing eligible signatories that their addresses will not be sold to mailing lists or that we're not working for the NSA.