NOTE: This time, I really truly am getting back in the blog business. I should have time on a fairly regular basis, and there is definitely plenty of material to cover.
At this time, however, I just want to reprint here the text of a new law passed in the recently ended 87th Texas Legislative session and signed by Governor Greg Abbott. At this moment, I cannot take the time to provide any serious analysis. Let's just say that it's time to Get Serious—that Greens and Libertarians in Texas who want their parties to continue existing will need to put in extra effort to devote more time, money, and energy to raising money or collecting signatures than we ever have. That is...unless these parties can convince a federal judge in a long-pending lawsuit that the fee requirement is unconstitutional.
SB 2093 closes an important loophole left by HB 2504 from the last session, which an appeals judge found when the Democratic Party of Texas filed a suit to kick Green candidates off the November general election ballot who did not pay the prescribed filing fees or petition signatures in lieu thereof (ignoring the much larger number of Libertarian candidates who also freeloaded onto the ballot). SB 2093 now specifies not only that third-party candidates must submit the requisite number of either filing fees or petition signatures, but when those should be submitted—i.e., when they apply to run.
I have left out all the strikethrough text in the final bill, excerpted from the old Section 141 of the Texas Electoral Code.
From Alejandro Serrano in the Houston Chronicle (paywall) Saturday, with an update Sunday:
The state’s high court Saturday rejected an effort by state and national Republicans to remove 44 Libertarian Party candidates from the ballot for failing to pay candidate filing fees.
This particular article repeats the old canard that Libertarians steal votes from Republican candidates and Greens from Democratic candidates—or are "generally seen" as doing so. It is "generally seen" in the journalistic community that one cannot write an article involving either party without a paragraph about siphoning votes from the big parties. The article does not mention, as a previous piece in the Chronicle did, that the GOP did not try to knock Libertarians who face no Republican opposition off the ballot.
As GPTX Co-Chair Laura Palmer said in her plea to the SOS Office, enforce the statute equally or not at all; since we consider the filing fee provision unconstitutional, we would prefer not at all.
What the Court Said
Here is the Supreme Court's 12-page decision in its entirety. As the heading reveals, it wasn't even the Texas GOP as a whole that request the writ of mandamus; it was the Texas House Republican Caucus PAC. Below is the key paragraph from that decision (emphasis mine):
Although the result in this instance may be that candidates who failed to pay the required filing fee will nevertheless appear on the ballot, this Court cannot deviate from the text of the law by subjecting the Libertarian candidates’ applications to challenges not authorized by the ElectionCode. The Legislature established detailed rules for ballot access and for challenges to candidates, and courts must carefully apply these rules based on the statutory text chosen by the Legislature. The available mechanism for seeking the Libertarians’ removal from the ballot for failure to pay the filing fee was a declaration of ineligibility. However, the deadline by which such a declaration can achieve the removal of candidates from the ballot has passed. The Election Code does not permit the relators to bypass that deadline by belatedly challenging the Libertarians’ applications. The petition for writ of mandamus is denied.
The decision was 7-0, with two justices not participating. As evidenced by the several appearances of "we agree with the relators that" and similar phrases, the Court's only rationale for denying the writ of mandamus was that it was filed too late to provide a remedy.
Advice on Campaign Strategy
This blogger, who last year applied to run for US Senate without the accompanying $5,000 filing fee or 5,000 petition signatures, does not recommend the same practice for any Green, Libertarian, or People's Party member intending to run for public office in 2022. As of now, prospective candidates should be aware that, should they choose to run without the fee, the Secretary of State's Office will not deny their applications unless and until a declaration of ineligibility is submitted.
(BTW, what will the shorthand demonym for a People's Party member be? They can't really use "Populist" because that word has developed some negative connotations. "Peoplist" perhaps?)
The circumstances in the previous paragraph may change following the 2021 legislative session. I'm fully expecting a sequel to HB 2504 and additional ballot-access entertainment from the Lege.
Be advised also that the above circumstances pertain only to statewide offices and offices with districts in more than one county. If the office one seeks has a jurisdiction entirely within one county, then the County Clerk or equivalent authority determines whether an application is valid sans fee or petition signatures.
The formatting tools in Weebly are now working as they should, so I'm fixing the formatting for this entry. Hyperlinks, however, still don't work right.
Dikeman, Texas Libertarian nominee for US Senate in 2018, has published (and subsequently updated) an account on Texas Free Press concerning the recent successful effort by Democratic candidates to shove my Green comrades and me off the ballot. You can copy and paste the URL below to read the full article.
Dikeman is also a lead plaintiff in the federal lawsuit against the Texas Secretary of State's Office, challenging the filing fee provision of HB 2504 as unconstitutional. He provides a good, detailed explanation for why the whole business, including the filing fees, makes no logical sense except as a way to thwart so-called third parties.
While the Republicans (and the Democrats in Davis) tried to argue the law equalized the situation between 3rd Party and Major party nominees, it in fact did the opposite. Unlike the primary filing fees paid by the Republican and Democratic candidates—which are paid to their own party--to be on the party's primary ballot for nomination (ostensibly to both reduce the number of primary candidates and defray part of the state funded primary costs), the HB2504 law required 3rd Party candidates to pay equivalent dollar amounts of fees directly to state or county coffers, and to do so to be on the general election ballot, which the Republicans and Democrats are not charged to be on—because of course, the 3rd Party conventions by law are privately funded, and the Republicans had zero desire to write an equal law that would effectively fund the party they were trying to impact. (emphasis Dikeman's)
Party suppression is voter suppression. If you deprive people a chance to vote for the party and candidates who best represent their values, you essentially deprive them of a vote.
But you might say, "Hey, Dave, what about actual Nazis—not just Republicans with Nazistic tendencies, but loud, proud Hitlerites? Would you want to have them on the ballot?" Of course I wouldn't, but (1) fortunately their numbers are too small to compete in legitimate elections, and (2) although one can fantasize about outlawing organizations that advocate violence toward certain demographic groups, per the First Amendment the law can act only when that advocacy turns to action. In this Land of the Allegedly Free, Nazis don't need swastika flags to take power when they have major-party politicians willing to enact at least a portion of their agenda.
Despite their reputation, especially in left-wing circles, as Second Amendment absolutists, true Libertarians are not Nazis. The fact that several Texas Libertarians have gone to bat for the Greens this year illustrates that they believe we should have a place at the table. The policy positions that Greens and Libertarians have in common, particularly that of ending imperialist wars, exemplify coalition politics in the multi-party system we hope to create.
This is from an email that arrived today from Hawkins/Walker:
Just before the clock ran out for challenges in Wisconsin, the Democrats filed a challenge on our petitions, saying that the address listed for Angela Walker was a false address.
The deadline for federal matching funds has just passed, but the campaign will not turn away your contributions of $2,800 or less just because it's not magically doubled.
Texas GOP Attempt to Knock Libertarians off the Ballot Fizzles
In related news, Texas Republicans tried some funky version of virtue signaling to show the world that they also want to uphold the law (HB 2504) by challenging Libertarian candidates who also didn't pay the new filing fees. (NOTE: The usual Houston Chronicle paywall.) But they waited until after the resolution of the Democrats' legal action to knock Greens off the ballot, by which time it was too late for the State Supreme Court to do anything. Not to spoil anything, but here are the very telling last two paragraphs:
Elliott Scheirman, a Libertarian running against Rep. Dan Crenshaw in Houston’s 2nd Congressional District, said the GOP suit is a “testament to the substantial growth and support” that the Libertarian Party has gained and proof that Republicans feel threatened.
This may look like a textbook example of GOP incompetence, but Kayleen observed (and I agree) that the GOP operatives know exactly what they're doing. As she put it, nobody has anything on the Republicans when it comes to voter suppression; it's a specialty of theirs.
And party suppression is voter suppression. Don't let anyone tell you it's not.
Plus, just about any district in which a Republican is running, including the district known as the entire state of Texas, is a safe district. Unlike the Democrats, who quake in their Luccheses at the prospect of facing opposition from the left, the GOP ain't worried about no Libertarian challengers.
The Green Mouse hath roared, and it scareth the Blue Donkey. So the Donkey reverteth to its habit of hauling the Green Mouse into court.
The purpose of this entry is to address the recent lightning-fast and successful legal move by Democratic candidates to keep Tom Wakely, katija gruene, and me off the 2020 general election ballot. We could also mention Charles Waterbury, and we will a few paragraphs down.
The facts in this case extend in multiple directions, making it difficult to form a coherent entry with smooth transitions. So the subheadings will mark shifts in topic. There may be multiple typos and misstatements below, so don't be shy about pointing them out in Comments.
Before diving into this irony-rich matter, I would like to state unequivocally that I am not personally upset about this development. I bear no personal animus toward Democratic Senate nominee MJ Hegar. However, I do bear heavy and sustained animus toward the US Corporate Empire for which she flew helicopters in Afghanistan.
My level of disdain for the Democratic Party as an institution, which was already as high as ever I can remember, is just a tad higher as of today. It's very telling that this Democratic US Senate candidate's Issues page contains almost nothing on foreign policy; the closest she gets is something like let's not put immigrant kids in cages. Democrats don't want you thinking about foreign policy, especially not our state of Endless War. That's why Bill Clinton kept pushing kitchen-table issues while ignoring the horrors of post–Gulf War economic sanctions in Iraq. The Clinton campaign's It's the Economy, Stupid! has devolved into ZOMG! Trump!!!
As for the Hegar campaign's use of Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation" as background music in a campaign video, I leave you to draw your own interpretations. I earnestly hope that Joan got paid for it.
At least Laura Palmer is optimistic. The GPTX co-chair said last night in a Green Party Houston Zoom conference that she is interpreting as good news the Secretary of State's Office's reply to the list of electoral nominees that she filed. If there's any truly good news, it's that SOS did not remark in this reply that the candidates who had not paid filing fees would not be granted official candidate status.
I don't see how SOS could avoid enforcing the statutory fee or petition requirements for minor-party candidates as set forth in last year's HB 2504. We still have to wait for the outcome of the pending lawsuits to see whether SOS can waive those fees legally and without major parties throwing a major hissy fit. We have made it a matter of public record that only two of the eight nominees ponied up to run for office, those being Hal J. Ridley, Jr. (US House District 36) and Brody Mulligan (Texas House District 92).
As of now, it's a little less unofficial that GPTX has three statewide nominees in addition to the presidential ticket. We'd certainly feel better if all nine million or so who vote in the general election have more Green choices than just the top of the ticket, rather than the 150,000 or so in Ridley's and Mulligan's districts.
The Green nominee for US Senate, yours sincerely, may begin doing something like campaigning soon. It will be a very low-key effort. As I told Laura, as much as I'd love to travel the state as I did in 2012, the current pandemic makes that impractical; making a lot of noise on the Internet seems to be the only way to go, but there's so much other noise competing for voters' attention.
The watchword for now is "wait & see."
In last night's online meeting of the State Executive Committee of the Green Party of Texas, state co-chair Laura Palmer revealed that the Secretary of State's Office had some questions about katija gruene's occupying two places on the 2020 general election ballot. As a result, ms. gruene decided to stay in the statewide race for the Railroad Commission seat and drop out of the Texas House District 51 race.
The Texas Election Code does not state explicitly that one person cannot run for more than one office in the same election—or, at least, I have not found such language. However, no one person may serve in two elected offices in the event of winning both races. Hypothetically, if gruene could be elected to both positions in the event of a sudden Green Wave, she should not take a chance on a dual victory.
Possibly Moot Point
This is the paragraph where we remind readers that gruene is not officially on the ballot for either position, despite being nominated for both. She did not pay the new HB 2504 filing fees to run, nor did she submit petition signatures in lieu of the fees. The fee provision for candidates irrespective of party is in legal limbo, pending the lawsuits filed in hopes of overturning it.
In no particular order:
Presidential Nominating Teleconference?
According to the GPUS website, the Green Party's Presidential Nominating Convention is still scheduled to take place in Detroit. There is no information up about whether it will be conducted online. This is also a good opportunity to remind recently selected national delegates to register. Even if it happens online, the registration fee is still $100, which helps defray costs like renting space at Wayne State University; after all, at least some of the national co-chairs will still be traveling to Detroit.
Oral Argument Date Set in Ballot Access Lawsuit
The rap battle starts 23 June. This bit of information hit Ballot Access News before a lot of Texas Greens found out; I found out just yesterday. BAN refers to the federal lawsuit in question as Dikeman v. Hughs, which I guess is fair, given that 2018 Libertarian senatorial candidate Neal Dikeman is listed first among the plaintiffs. The outcome will determine whether Libertarians and Greens will still need to pay filing fees that go toward financing Democratic and Republican primary elections.
Hi y'all. This blog is back in business, although its proprietor may have to return it full strength gradually.
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.
Psst. Hey you. Wanna run for office as a Green or Libertarian? There's an app for that.
As of this writing, the Secretary of State's Office has not released the petition sheet for candidates in convention-nominating parties who are too broke or cheap to pay the filing fee. That will supposed be ready next week.
The important dates to remember right now, if you are even contemplating a run for office, are 9 November and 9 December. Those are the beginning and ending dates of the period for filing an application with your county or state party. The November date is the earliest date you can walk into the SOS Office with your filing fee, the amounts for which are displayed in a table on the paged linked above.
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.