Two months ago, I put this thing on hold. A week before that, I was making noise about running as a Green for the US Senate currently occupied by Texas's senior senator John Cornyn. The plan was to run on the standard Green platform but make a lot of noise about Instant Runoff Voting and Move to Amend's proposed "We the People" Amendment.
Today, 9 December, is Texas's deadline to submit to the Secretary of State's Office (or the various County Clerks' offices) applications to run in the 2020 elections. Last Wednesday I gave mine to Green Party of Texas co-chair Alfred Molison, so that he could take it to Austin today. However, unless something changes very dramatically and very soon, my candidacy will be over before it has even begun. Click the Read More link to get the details.
HB 2504 grants ballot access to any party that has achieved 2% of the vote in a statewide election over the past ten years, but it also imposes filing fees on all parties, or requirements for petition signatures in lieu of the fees. on candidates of all parties. For the near future, the often tiresome exercise of collecting tens of thousands of valid signatures in 75 days is a thing of the past for Greens and Libertarians.
Cool: Team Sunflower and Team Hedgehog have a guaranteed ballot line through 2026 and 2028, respectively.
Uncool: The filing fees are specifically earmarked to pay for the administering of primary elections, which only the major parties actually conduct.
There may be some Libertarian candidates who can afford the fees, or can afford to pay people to collect signatures, but your average Green in Texas cannot. Most of us are in that large category of Americans who cannot afford a thousand-dollar medical emergency.
A Very Temporary Injunction
The new fee requirements did not go uncontested. Texans for Voter Choice sued the SOS Office on Constitutional grounds to make those requirements go away. Joining TVC as plaintiffs were the Green Party, Libertarian Party, Constitution Party, and America's Party, as well as some individuals like former GPTX co-chair Laura Palmer. Here is the full text of the complaint, replete with historical information about the history of electoral law in Texas, and press release that summarizes it. Please note that, since the filing in July, Abbott has appointed Ruth Hughs to fill the vacancy in the Secretary of State position, and the defendant is no longer "JOHN OR JANE DOE."
Last Monday, plaintiffs' attorney Oliver Hall—oops, correction! It was Kathie Glass of Team Hedgehog, with several noteworthy Libertarians' names in the list of plaintiffs—successfully persuaded Texas 11th District Judge Kristen Hawkins (a Democrat, as are all the current district judges in Harris County) to grant a temporary injunction, preventing the SOS and county clerks from enforcing the fee and petition requirements. That gave my spirits an enormous boost. The next day, when I became aware of the injunction, I pre-empted some of my usual activities to fill out the application and get it notarized; the day after that, I turned it in to Molison. Off and running!
That temporary injunction was quite temporary indeed, as it turned out. Thursday, the court granted the appeal from the attorney for the SOS Office. As of this moment, my application, unaccompanied by $5,000, is just a piece of paper with a notary stamp on it.
Fuller disclosure as to my own participation in the suit: In October, I did provide a statement as to how the requirements hindered my own attempt to run for office. That statement was then retracted after I informed Hall that I would not have the time, energy, or resources to run a campaign and had thus decided not to.
Later in October, I mulled over the possibility of running for a less expensive office: specifically, US House in District 2 or 18. Texas has no law forbidding citizens to run for a US House seat outside of their home districts. My plan was to collect the requisite 500 valid signatures from registered voters in one district or the other. My base of operations would be the Ensemble/HCC MetroRail platform, on Main Street between Holman and Alabama Streets in Midtown Houston. The station just happens to lie on the dividing line between TX-2 and TX-18. Then a harsh reality set in: the same reality that pushed me to suspend this blog, i.e. the need to spend time searching for and securing a job. Perhaps I'll find somebody willing to hang out there with a stack of clipboards in 2021, collecting signatures for the 2022 Congressional election.
Good news for Greens is that we have at least one Green candidate for a statewide office in 2020. If it's a position for which no Democrat files, 2% of the vote is practically guaranteed: Since the party's founding in 2000, no Green has yet failed to top 5% in any statewide race with only one corporate party represented. As recently as 2018, the Democrats skipped a race for Court of Criminal Appeals, Position 8, leaving Libertarian candidate Mark Ash to collect 25.3% of the statewide vote.
Until tomorrow, when it all becomes official, we should not specify who is running, or for which office. We can tell you that it will be a judicial position, on either the State Supreme Court or the CCA, plus a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission. Some lucky Green voters will also have candidates in a few district and county races.