While we still don’t know what the deal will be with the Green Party, we may wonder what of that other third party on the ballot? Ross Ramsey takes a look at the Libertarian Party and the effect its candidates have on legislative races.
It’s impossible to know just which races will be close in November. But more than a dozen House races that are on the target lists of either the Republicans or the Democrats have Libertarians in them. Republicans have set their sites on state Reps. Mark Homer of Paris, Donna Howard of Austin, Diana Maldonado of Round Rock, Joe Moody of El Paso, Joe Heflin of Crosbyton, Chris Turner of Burleson, Allen Vaught of Dallas, Ellen Cohen of Houston and Hubert Vo of Houston, among others. Democrats are gunning for state Reps. Tim Kleinschmidt of Lexington, Charles “Doc” Anderson of Waco, Linda Harper-Brown of Irving, Joe Driver of Garland, Dwayne Bohac of Houston and Ken Legler of Pasadena. That’s not the entire target list for either party, but those are the races that could be close — and that have Libertarians on the ballot. Libertarian candidates signed up for the two Texas congressional seats on the GOP’s national target list, those held by U.S. Reps. Chet Edwards of Waco and Ciro Rodriguez of San Antonio. And they’ve got statewide candidates all lined up, too.
“In a year like this, I would do anything I could to make it a one-person race,” says Todd Olsen, a consultant working with Associated Republicans of Texas, a political action committee trying to preserve and increase GOP majorities in the statehouse. “If I could get the Libertarian to drop out and support me, I’d do it. The Green? I’d do it.”
I took a look at this in 2008, both before and after the election that year. My conclusion is that while there is an effect in the occasional race, the absolute number of races in which you could reasonably say there was an effect is really small. Of course, it’s a huge deal when it does happen – a win is a win, after all – so it’s worth keeping an eye on the races where it’s possible to occur, and it’s worth it to push things one way or the other if you’re involved in such a race. Just keep it in perspective, that’s all I’m saying.