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.
We could add to the headline above: Surprised (Even Somewhat Pleasantly) but Not Shocked. In looking over some results from last night, the push and pull of the various emotional vectors had me numb but buzzing this morning.
UPDATE: Here are links to Part II and Part III of this series.
As of this afternoon, the buzz has subsided a bit. Now comes the sober task of processing it all. It will take a few entries and at least a couple of days to put it all together, because beyond the confines of this blogspace I actually have a life.
Herewith, we present the first of these entries, examining statewide races and the composition of the next Texas Legislature. We will focus on Harris County and some results for progressive candidates and issues in other states in subsequent posts.
Before I dive in too deeply, I offer these two disclaimers:
Inspired by PDiddie's recent post about which statewide Democrats are worthy of his vote this year, I've been thinking about how I'll be voting in some of the races he doesn't mention: in particular, for Texas Governor, US Senate, and US House.
If you know me or have read this blog, you may know that I despise the US partisan duopoly, also known as the two-headed Corporate Party. In this midterm electoral circus, and with no Green candidates on the ballot, I despise it enough to vote for Libertarians in races where I don't find the Democratic candidate an acceptable alternative—or in safe seats like Sheila Jackson Lee's US House District TX-18, where I live.
Today I decided to look into whether anything egregiously daffy appears on the Issues pages of some Libertarian candidates who will appear on my ballot in November. A glance at the Texas Libertarians' Candidates page, my first visit there since May, reveals instantly that
Despite some positions with which I disagree, I could envision choosing Mark Tippetts for governor. Democrat Lupe Valdez has all but disappeared from the scene, whilst at the tippy-top of the ticket Beto-Bob has sucked up most of the oxygen. Since I'm on record stipulating that advocating Medicare for All or a Single-Payer health system would be my criterion for whether a candidate gets my vote, this excerpt from Tippetts's website is kind of a deal breaker (emphasis mine):
Government should neither provide, control, nor require health care. I do not believe that people have a right to be provided with healthcare at other peoples’ expense.
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.