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Green Party

No Greens

Can’t honestly say I’m sorry.

Jan Richards

When Texans head to the ballot box this November, they’ll be able to vote for Republicans, Democrats or Libertarians.

If they want to choose a candidate affiliated with another political group, they might have to write in the name of their chosen candidate. That’s because five other political parties seeking to get on the ballot — America’s Party of Texas, the Christian Party of Texas, the Green Party of Texas, None of the Above and the Texas Independent Party — didn’t secure the 47,183 valid signatures needed for ballot access this fall.

“We only got like 400 or 500 signatures out of the 50,000 that we need,” said Jan Richards, a Green Party of Texas candidate who’s running for governor.

“It’s a challenge. There’s really no other way to describe it — and they definitely don’t make it easy,” said Andy Prior, the former state chairman for America’s Party of Texas who’s also the party’s nominee for land commissioner. According to its website, America’s Party supports a pro-life and pro-liberty platform. It collected less than 250 signatures.

All five of the parties that missed out filed the necessary paperwork with the Texas Secretary of State’s office in order to gain ballot access this November, spokesman Sam Taylor said. That kicked off a 75-day period that began March 13 to get the signatures needed. But the deadline passed at midnight on Wednesday, and none collected enough.

[…]

In order to get their candidates on the general election ballot without a petition, parties must have at least one candidate win more than 5 percent of the vote in a statewide race during the previous election cycle. Libertarian petroleum engineer Mark Miller barely cleared that hurdle for his party in 2016, winning 5.3 percent of the vote in the race against Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian.

The two parties other than the Democrats and Republicans that often collect enough votes in the previous election to secure ballot access for the following cycle are the Libertarians and the Greens.

But the Green Party, which runs on a liberal platform and is sometimes blamed for siphoning off votes from Democratic candidates, fell short in 2016 after Democrats fielded candidates in every statewide judicial race for the first time since 2010. The Green Party typically has relied on judicial races that lack Democratic candidates to reach the 5 percent threshold.

Yeah, darn those dirty Democrats and their dastardly tactic of running candidates in every race. The Greens were not on the ballot in 2006 and 2008 and were heading to be in the same position in 2010 when they got a bing financial boost from a Republican backer, followed by a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court. Not happening this time, I guess. Which among other things is a missed opportunity for them, as the Dems did not field a candidate in one Court of Criminal Appeals race this year. Better luck next time, y’all.

Note that this is just for statewide ballot access. The Greens and the Libertarians can still nominate candidates for Congress, the Lege, county offices, and so forth. If you want to know who they are and what they’re running for, well, the Texas Green Party website lists three would-have-been statewide contenders and one candidate for a school board, while the Harris County Green Party has bupkis. I don’t know what their plans are, and as you might surmise I don’t really care, but you may see a Greenie or two on your ballot in November anyway. Just not for a statewide race.

Don’t expect the Kathie Glass effect to be much

Seems like every four years we talk about the possible effect of third party candidates on various races. Usually, it’s in the context of legislative races, where some candidates have won with less than 50% in recent years and one could make a case that the presence of a (usually) Libertarian candidate might have had an effect on the outcome. The subject came up for the Governor’s race a little while back, and I’m here to tamp down on any irrational exuberance.

Hop on the bus, Gus. Or don’t. Your call.

Don’t forget 1990.

That was the year a third-party candidate made a potentially game-changing difference in the Texas governor’s race, drawing slightly more than the number of votes separating Democratic winner Ann Richards from Republican Clayton Williams.

And while third-party gubernatorial candidates did not participate in Friday’s debate between Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis, they could help decide who will be the next governor of Texas.

“Third-party candidates can mean a big difference in close elections,” said Allan Saxe, an associate political science professor at the University of Texas at Arlington. “Third parties can rarely win. Generally, [they] play a spoiler role.”

[…]

Observers say this year’s Nov. 4 general election could provide a number of close races where a third-party candidate might change the entire dynamics of a race.

“In these contests there exists the possibility that were one or more third-party candidates not on the ballot … the outcome of the election would [be] different,” said Mark P. Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston.

[…]

Political analysts say third-party candidates could make a difference in the governor’s race.

Abbott, the state’s attorney general and GOP nominee, squares off against Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth and Democratic nominee. Libertarian Kathie Glass and Green Party candidate Brandon Parmer are in the race as well.

If the race tightens up, Glass and Parmer combined could draw as little as 4 percent of the vote and impact the result.

“That could mean the difference in a very close election,” Saxe said.

After all, in 1990, Richards won by claiming 99,239 more votes than Williams, and Libertarian Jeff Daiell earned 129,128 votes.

“Overall, the principal impact of the Libertarian Party and Green Party candidates this fall will be to provide voters with a different perspective on how to address many of the key challenges facing the state today,” Jones said.

A key example, he said, is Glass, “who is far and away running the most visible and vibrant campaign of any third-party candidate in Texas.”

I will admit, I saw the Kathie Glass Bus on the side of the road as we were heading back from Austin on 290 a couple of weeks ago. I was tempted to take a picture of it, but I was driving at the time, and I didn’t think Tiffany would have appreciated me hauling out my cellphone at that moment. Maybe some other time. In any event, I will admit that as far as that goes, Glass’ campaign has been more visible than some other Libertarian campaigns of recent years.

Nonetheless, I’m going to play spoiler as well. Here’s a compilation of all third-party candidate performances in Texas gubernatorial races since 1990. See if you can spot the problem.

Year Lib Green Other Total Win % ======================================== 1990 3.32 0 0.30 3.62 48.19 1994 0.64 0 0 0.64 49.68 1998 0.55 0 0.02 0.57 49.72 2002 1.46 0.70 0.05 2.21 48.90 2006 0.60 0 0.01 0.61 49.69 2010 2.19 0.39 0.14 2.72 48.64

Notice how in none of these six elections how the combined Lib and Green (and write-in, which is what the Other above represents) total has reached four percent? In fact, outside of 1990, it’s never reached three percent? This could be the year that it happens – the Kathie Glass Bus is quite impressive, after all – but if you’re going to write this story, you ought to acknowledge the history. Don’t get our hopes up without justification.

It’s my opinion from looking at as many election results as I’ve seen over the years that the higher the profile the race, the lower the ceiling for third party candidates, our wacky 2006 Governor’s race excepted. Honestly, outside of the hardest of the hardcore political junkies and members of the third parties themselves, I doubt more than a handful of people even know who the L and G nominees are. With all due respect to Kathie Glass and her bus, the people that will be voting for her are basically the people that always vote Libertarian and the people that for whatever the reason didn’t like the nominee from the party that they tend to vote for no matter how much they protest their “independence”. Frankly, if the base party vote is reasonably close to even overall – which at this point I don’t think is likely, but I could be wrong – the place where an L and/or G candidate could affect the outcome is down ballot. I went through this exercise before, to show that one doesn’t need to get 50% of the vote to win most statewide races in Texas due to the presence of other candidates, and as you can see the higher totals for third party candidates tend to be in the lower profile races. I’m not saying that Kathie Glass and Brandon Parmer can’t have an effect on the outcome of the Governor’s race. I am saying that if I had to pick one race where there might be an effect, I’d probably pick Railroad Commissioner or Supreme Court justice. I promise to look at this again after the election.

Precinct analysis: Third parties revisited

Politico has a question.

Is Austin’s Travis County the nation’s Libertarian Party stronghold?

The co-founders of a Libertarian political action committee based there make that case, arguing that the Texas locale is the “most Libertarian large county in America.”

Wes Benedict and Arthur DiBianca of Libertarian Booster PAC note that 31 Libertarian candidates were on the Travis County ballot this year, more than any other county in America. Among the other stats they cite:

  • Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson won 2.7% there, his highest percentage nationwide for large counties outside his home state of New Mexico.
  • Four Libertarians got over 40% of the vote for the portion of their district within Travis County
  • The current chairman of the national party, Geoffrey Neale, lives in Travis County, and 2004 Libertarian presidential nominee Michael Badnarik had previously run for office as a Libertarian in Travis County, and his presidential campaign headquarters were located in Travis County.

Their argument makes some sense – certainly there’s a strong libertarian bent in tech-heavy communities like Travis County.

We reviewed this before, and indeed Travis was the best county in the state for Johnson. It was also the second-Greenest county in the state, so I think it’s more a matter of iconoclasm than Libertarianism. For the record, those four Libertarians with over 40% of the vote were the candidate in CD17, plus three statewide judicial candidates. All were the sole opponents to Republicans, and I say that’s more about anti-Republicanism than pro-Libertarianism. Besides, as we’ve also seen, Libertarian Railroad Commissioner candidate Jaime Perez did better than that in several Latino-heavy counties, winning a majority of the vote in Maverick and Webb even though he also had a Green opponent. The simple fact is that in areas that are dominated by one party, Ls and Gs serve as the default option in races where that party isn’t represented. This doesn’t detract from the claim that Travis County has a large number of people willing to push the L button – relatively speaking, anyway – just that one needs to be aware of the qualifications.

Reading that story made me decide to go back to the Harris County precinct data to see where the Lib and Green friendly areas were. I broke this down into three sets of races, since obviously not every race featured an L and/or a G. The first set is the top of the ticket, the Presidential race and the Senate race. Here’s how the L and G candidates did in those races in each State Rep district:

Dist Johnson Stein J Pct S Pct Myers Collins M Pct C Pct ================================================================ 126 531 160 0.92% 0.28% 903 424 1.58% 0.74% 127 587 208 0.88% 0.31% 977 491 1.48% 0.74% 128 450 129 0.80% 0.23% 791 325 1.43% 0.59% 129 781 284 1.21% 0.44% 1,216 582 1.90% 0.91% 130 693 199 0.99% 0.29% 1,143 480 1.65% 0.69% 131 196 93 0.45% 0.21% 384 297 0.89% 0.69% 132 549 151 1.03% 0.28% 908 405 1.72% 0.77% 133 815 241 1.12% 0.33% 1,187 561 1.65% 0.78% 134 1,114 436 1.34% 0.53% 1,697 898 2.08% 1.10% 135 548 162 1.01% 0.30% 881 447 1.63% 0.83% 137 289 113 1.17% 0.46% 486 322 2.01% 1.33% 138 540 161 1.17% 0.35% 795 403 1.73% 0.88% 139 260 132 0.51% 0.26% 513 392 1.01% 0.77% 140 152 66 0.64% 0.28% 223 215 0.96% 0.92% 141 142 56 0.37% 0.15% 282 169 0.74% 0.45% 142 166 93 0.40% 0.22% 352 271 0.85% 0.66% 143 189 104 0.62% 0.34% 336 304 1.11% 1.01% 144 238 90 0.98% 0.37% 371 241 1.55% 1.01% 145 273 161 0.92% 0.54% 481 342 1.65% 1.17% 146 376 190 0.74% 0.38% 624 438 1.25% 0.88% 147 583 304 1.06% 0.56% 944 685 1.75% 1.27% 148 640 282 1.62% 0.71% 947 553 2.43% 1.42% 149 347 131 0.80% 0.30% 594 358 1.40% 0.84% 150 598 157 0.92% 0.24% 976 478 1.51% 0.74%

The percentages here are calculated from the four-candidate totals. For comparison purposes, Libertarian Gary Johnson had 0.93% overall in Harris County, and Green Jill Stein had 0.35%; in the Senate races, John Jay Myers had 1.54% and David Collins had 0.86%. Everyone who had HD148 as the most third-party-friendly district in Harris County, come forward and collect your winnings. You would have guessed HD134, am I right? That district isn’t as Montrose-y as it used to be, which I suspect is the reason for its runnerup status. At the other end of the scale, note how third-party-resistant the African-American districts were – all but HD147 were well below the countywide levels of L and G support. Republican districts in general were also third-party-averse, with only HDs 134 and 129 overperforming for them. This is what you should expect for Presidential and Senate races – as the highest-profile races, and the ones that tend to have the fewest undervotes, people are going to stick with their home teams unless they’re crossing over for a specific reason. Once we get past these races, however, it’s a different story. There were two other statewide races that had an R, a D, an L, and a G – the Railroad Commissioner race that featured Christi Craddick, Dale Henry, Vivekananda (Vik) Wall, and Chris Kennedy; and the Supreme Court race between Nathan Hecht, Michele Petty, Mark Ash, and Jim Chisholm. Here’s how that played out for the L and G candidates.

Dist Wall Kennedy W Pct K Pct Ash Chisholm A Pct C Pct ================================================================ 126 951 758 1.69% 1.35% 1,240 530 2.22% 0.95% 127 1,060 922 1.63% 1.42% 1,438 620 2.22% 0.96% 128 785 757 1.44% 1.39% 1,117 512 2.05% 0.94% 129 1,387 1,174 2.21% 1.87% 1,677 727 2.69% 1.17% 130 1,183 861 1.74% 1.26% 1,668 607 2.46% 0.89% 131 354 550 0.83% 1.28% 452 298 1.06% 0.70% 132 906 751 1.73% 1.44% 1,207 495 2.32% 0.95% 133 1,307 1,036 1.85% 1.47% 1,674 676 2.40% 0.97% 134 1,937 1,784 2.46% 2.27% 2,373 973 3.04% 1.24% 135 964 724 1.81% 1.36% 1,187 473 2.25% 0.90% 137 494 525 2.07% 2.20% 578 317 2.44% 1.34% 138 884 748 1.96% 1.66% 1,082 490 2.42% 1.09% 139 518 744 1.03% 1.47% 676 527 1.34% 1.05% 140 213 447 0.92% 1.94% 318 307 1.38% 1.34% 141 250 362 0.66% 0.96% 332 253 0.88% 0.67% 142 347 405 0.85% 0.99% 442 297 1.08% 0.73% 143 287 611 0.96% 2.05% 448 419 1.51% 1.42% 144 361 556 1.53% 2.35% 502 345 2.13% 1.46% 145 501 795 1.74% 2.77% 690 515 2.41% 1.80% 146 626 810 1.27% 1.65% 748 433 1.53% 0.88% 147 1,022 1,197 1.92% 2.25% 1,229 719 2.32% 1.36% 148 941 1,319 2.47% 3.47% 1,319 798 3.49% 2.11% 149 607 637 1.44% 1.51% 725 353 1.74% 0.85% 150 1,093 904 1.71% 1.42% 1,475 613 2.32% 0.97%

These results just fascinate me. The total number of L and G votes in each race was nearly the same – 38,476 in the RRC race, 36,993 in the Supreme Court race – but the distribution was completely different. Wall (19,036 for 1.65%) and Kennedy (19,440 for 1.68%) basically tied, while Ash (24,665 for 2.14%) doubled up Chisholm (12.328 for 1.07%). Look in each district, and you can basically see some number of people who voted for Kennedy in one race voting for Ash in the other? You may wonder why this is. It’s possible that Christi Craddick was more acceptable, and Dale Henry less so, to the “swing” third-party voters that otherwise vote R and D, with the reverse being true for Nathan Hecht and Michele Petty. There is something to that – Henry is on the verge of morphing into Gene Kelly, while Nathan Hecht has ethical baggage and nearly foisted Harriet Miers onto an unsuspecting US Supreme Court. The total number of voters involved here is tiny enough to include the possibility that they’re sophisticated enough to make such judgments. Personally, I think it’s more likely that we’re looking at roughly the same voters in each race, and that people picked Chris Kennedy over Vik Wall as their “none of the above” choice because Wall had a funny-sounding name. What do you think?

At the county level there were no four-way races, but there was a Green candidate running for Sheriff (Remington Alessi) and a Libertarian candidate running for Tax Assessor (Jesse Hopson). Here’s how they did in their respective races.

Dist Alessi A Pct Hopson H Pct =================================== 126 866 1.54% 1,291 2.30% 127 1,180 1.82% 1,632 2.51% 128 851 1.55% 1,156 2.12% 129 1,428 2.27% 1,866 2.98% 130 1,027 1.50% 1,695 2.50% 131 603 1.41% 534 1.25% 132 903 1.73% 1,294 2.49% 133 1,317 1.88% 1,804 2.58% 134 1,952 2.49% 2,458 3.15% 135 894 1.68% 1,279 2.42% 137 622 2.61% 695 2.93% 138 868 1.92% 1,225 2.73% 139 801 1.58% 844 1.68% 140 300 1.28% 357 1.55% 141 373 0.99% 366 0.97% 142 478 1.16% 497 1.21% 143 450 1.49% 488 1.64% 144 435 1.83% 524 2.22% 145 697 2.40% 777 2.71% 146 927 1.89% 895 1.83% 147 1,383 2.60% 1,369 2.58% 148 1,226 3.19% 1,437 3.79% 149 671 1.60% 834 1.99% 150 1,070 1.68% 1,547 2.44%

These are two different races, so Alessi and Hopson’s numbers aren’t directly comparable, but it’s still interesting to see them side by side. I take this as a data point in favor of the hypothesis that Libertarian candidates tend to draw support from Republicans; based on these numbers, they do so in somewhat greater quantity than Greens do from Dems. I wouldn’t draw too broad a conclusion from this sample – there was a lot of money in the Sheriff’s race, and that tends to minimize third party support. Then again, Alessi did actually campaign – if Hopson did, it was invisible to me – and there was some criticism of Sheriff Garcia from the left, so one might expect him to do better than a generic “none of the above” candidate. Make of it what you will.

I think that about runs me out of ideas for precinct analyses. One never knows where inspiration may strike, though, so don’t quote me on that. And there’s always next year, which is to say this year now. Until then, or until I come up with another angle at which to examine the data, we’ll call it a wrap on 2012.

The third parties

While I work my way through the precinct data in Harris County, we can keep looking at the county data for Texas from last week’s election. Here are the top and bottom ten counties by percentage of the vote for Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson:

County Johnson % County Johnson % ============================================== Travis 2.72% Throckmorton 0.00% Hays 2.46% Brooks 0.25% Brewster 2.35% Kimble 0.32% Williamson 2.22% Lipscomb 0.34% Jeff Davis 2.02% Parmer 0.35% Bastrop 1.90% Refugio 0.37% Brazos 1.87% Bailey 0.39% Caldwell 1.84% Zapata 0.40% Terrell 1.80% Dimmit 0.41% Blanco 1.71% Deaf Smith 0.42%

Travis County is a hotbed for third-party voting, and apparently that fever has spread to some of its neighbors. My guess is that more people there consider their Presidential vote to be meaningless, so they feel freer to use it for personal expression. I will add that the #12 county on the “most Libertarian” list is Loving County, where Johnson collected 1.56% of the vote. Of course, there were only 64 total votes cast in Loving County (2010 population: 82 residents), so that 1.56% represents exactly one voter. How would you like to say that you’re the only voter of your kind in your entire county? For what it’s worth, Travis was the only blue county in the top ten, while Brooks, Zapata, and Dimmit are all deep-blue Rio Grande counties. Only Blanco County was more than 70% red, while five of the top ten counties were between 50% and 60% Republican; of the bottom ten counties, all but Refugio among the Republican counties were at least 70% so.

By the way, Johnson did something that no other Libertarian Presidential candidate had ever done in Texas: He got more than 1% of the vote, 1.10% to be exact.

Here are the same lists for Green Party candidate Jill Stein:

County Stein % County Stein % ============================================== Brewster 0.91% Loving 0.00% Travis 0.87% Hudspeth 0.00% Borden 0.83% Hemphill 0.00% Foard 0.81% McMullen 0.00% Presidio 0.66% Oldham 0.00% Dallam 0.65% Sherman 0.00% Kinney 0.63% King 0.00% Delta 0.59% Kenedy 0.00% Jeff Davis 0.59% Floyd 0.00% Blanco 0.58% Martin 0.00%

Note: that’s “Dallam” County in Stein’s top ten list, not “Dallas”. There is Travis again, giving Stein not just a relatively high percentage but also a huge share of her total vote: The 3,360 Greenies in Travis County represented nearly one-seventh of Stein’s final total of 24,450 votes. Only three other counties appeared on both Stein and Johnson’s lists, and outside of Travis they’re all small to tiny; besides Brewster (35 votes for Stein) and Blanco (29 votes), none provided more than 12 Green votes. Serendipitously, there were exactly ten counties that pitched a Green shutout. Hays (0.57%, #11 on the list) and Jefferson (0.13%) were the high and low Green scorers among counties with at least 100,000 registered voters, while El Paso (0.37%) and Fort Bend (0.21%) were at the top and bottom of counties where at least 100,000 votes were cast.

And finally, the same lists for John Jay Myers and David Collins, the Libertarian and Green candidates for Senate, respectively.

County Myers % County Myers % ============================================== Cottle 4.67% Glasscock 0.55% Brewster 4.62% Brooks 0.64% Travis 4.30% Sutton 0.70% Hays 4.21% Martin 0.71% Williamson 4.09% Jim Hogg 0.81% Hudspeth 3.96% King 0.82% Terrell 3.75% Dickens 0.83% Bastrop 3.53% Wheeler 0.83% Culberson 3.42% Rusk 0.85% Kenedy 3.29% Jefferson 0.96% County Collins % County Collins % ============================================== Maverick 2.34% Glasscock 0.00% Johnson 2.27% King 0.00% Presidio 2.09% Floyd 0.24% Jeff Davis 1.95% Borden 0.29% Brewster 1.87% Hartley 0.32% Culberson 1.85% Madison 0.32% Webb 1.84% Garza 0.34% Willacy 1.71% Hemphill 0.34% Loving 1.67% Lamb 0.35% Zapata 1.65% Camp 0.37%

There’s a lot of overlap between Johnson and Myers’ top lists – Hudspeth was #11 for Johnson, and Culberson was #26. Cottle and Kenedy are both tiny counties, and the differences are small but pronounced given the minimal number of voters. 31 people in Cottle votes Myers, but only 5 for Johnson, while in Kenedy it was 5 for Myers and 1 for Johnson. As for Collins, just as there was one Libertarian in Loving County, so is there one Green there. I wonder if they know each other.

Roseanne!

Meet your newest Presidential wannabe.

The Associated Press and TMZ are reporting that comedienne and self-proclaimed “domestic goddess” Roseanne Barr has filed documents to run for president.

Apparently, she thinks that only a woman can solve this nation’s problems. Check out the above video from her website.

Barr, who starred in the classic sitcom Roseanne and in her 2011 reality-TV show, Roseanne’s Nuts, plans to run under the banner of the Green Party.

Barr says she’s sick of Democrats and Republicans, whom she believes are not working in the best interests of the American people.

So what, you ask, is Roseanne pushing?  The answer is simple … pot.  She wants marijuana legalized and sold strictly domestically.

If you’re not taking her seriously, apparently a Green Party official does. Tom Yager posted on her website: “I am pleased to inform you that Roseanne Barr is officially recognized by the Green Party of the United States, Presidential Campaign Support Committee, as a Green Party Presidential Candidate.”

The star in a statement to AP that she’s a longtime supporter of the party and looks forward to working with people who share her values.

I should note that there’s already one Green Party Presidential candidate. Actually, there’s more than one – I was curious how the Greens do their nomination, which led me to this.

Our Feb. 1-2 Presidential Poll closed earlier tonight, and of the 1,792 votes cast, Jill Stein received 1,223 of them, or 68%. Roseanne Barr, who had just entered the race in the last week, picked up 526 votes, or 29%. There were 35 votes for Kent Mesplay, and 8 votes for Harley Mikkelson.

Four Green Party candidates for President – who knew? I admit I’m curious what effect Roseanne’s celebrity will have on her chances. As for the answer to my question about their nominating process:

The Green Party will select their Presidential nominee at the Green Party Presidential Nominating Convention July 12-15 in Baltimore, Maryland. Between now and then, state Green Party chapters and caucuses will be meeting and voting and selecting Delegates to the Presidential Nominating Convention. Local caucuses in Minnesota are meeting next week, and Arizona holds their state primary on February 28.

So there you have it. You may not have the chance to vote for The Donald, but you still might be able to support a celebrity with bad hair. What more could you want?

Interview with Amy Price

Amy Price

Also running in At Large #4 is Amy Price, who is running under the auspices of the Green Party. Price is a violin teacher and professional musician who has performed with such bands as Gordian Knot, The Buddhacrush, and Orange Is In. She’s also someone I’ve known and been friends with for over 20 years. Here’s our conversation:

Download the MP3 file

You can find a list of all interviews for this cycle, plus other related information, on my 2011 Elections page.

Interview with Don Cook

Don Cook

Also running in At Large #1 is Don Cook, who does not currently have a website. Cook ran for this office in 2009 as a member of the Progressive Coalition. He was also the Green Party candidate for Harris County Clerk in 2010. Here’s the interview:

Download the MP3 file

You can find a list of all interviews for this cycle, plus other related information, on my 2011 Elections page.

From the “Grant me the grace to accept the things I cannot change” department

What’s that old saying? “Could be worse. Could be raining.”

As Democrats around the country girded for a midterm GOP tsunami, Bill White and his down-ballot Democratic cohorts spent the weekend tacking up political plywood and looking for signs, any signs, that the storm would not be as severe as the prognosticators were predicting.

One of those signs in Harris County, said Gerry Birnberg, Harris County Democratic Party chairman, was that early vote totals turned out to be “pretty much a dead heat” after an initial surge from enthusiastic Republicans.

Still there were storm clouds looming for local Democratic candidates, Birnberg noted on Sunday. And he meant real storm clouds.

“The wild card in the deck is the weather,” Birnberg said. Forecasters are predicting Election Day thunderstorms for the Houston area, and that might make it difficult for a party that needs a large turnout to make up the Republican advantage in mail-in and early voting ballots.

SciGuy suggests the weather ought to be pretty good during voting hours today. You can verify or falsify that yourself by just looking out your window.

As far as the differences between early voting and Election Day are concerned, a survey of the 2002 and 2006 results shows that Democrats have done about three points better on Election Day than before it. Of course, with a handful of exceptions Republican candidates still won on Election Day in those years. Still, the difference moved the needle a point or two in the Democratic direction, which may be enough if the vote tallies are fairly even to begin with.

That has to be qualified by noting that in those elections, the vast bulk of votes were cast on Election Day, which will surely not be the case this year. However, if the surge in Early Voting is similar in nature to what we saw in 2008, when scads of people who had formerly voted on Election Day changed their behavior, then we could see a much bigger difference in performance. In 2008, when many more Democrats voted early, Republicans gained between six and eight points on Election Day. I doubt we’ll see anything that dramatic, but I do believe the Republican well isn’t as deep today.

Finally, I should note that in all three years, including 2008, Libertarian candidates did better, by about a point in 2008 and a half a point in 2002 and 2006, on Election Day. I’m sure there’s a slacker joke in there somewhere, but I’m not feeling it right now. Green candidates did a smidge better on Election Day in 2002, in case you were wondering. Make of that what you will.

Arizona Green Party sues to kick its own candidates off the ballot

Just when you think you’ve seen it all

The state Democratic Party is alleging possible voter fraud in what it called a scheme to undermine its candidates by recruiting “sham” Green Party hopefuls.

In a complaint filed late Monday, the party seeks an investigation by federal, state and county law-enforcement officials.

The complaint names Rep. Jim Weiers, R-Phoenix; Steve May, a Republican candidate for the Legislature; and a House Republican staffer as complicit in an effort to register at least a half-dozen people as Green Party members so they could run as write-in candidates in last week’s primary election.

Republicans accused of the ploy denied any wrongdoing.

Under state election law, it only takes one write-in vote for a person to qualify as a Green candidate on the Nov. 2 general-election ballot.

The newly minted Green candidates have been disavowed by the Arizona Green Party and are running in races in which Democrats are believed to be competitive. Those races include secretary of state, treasurer, Arizona Corporation Commission and several legislative contests in swing districts.

If you’re thinking that law sounds a bit fishy, it’s the reason why the Green Party has sided with the Democrats on this. Here’s their statement.

Today’s lawsuit requests the invalidation of a statute which creates a separate but unequal category of political party, that applies only to the Arizona Green Party, in a way that mocks our substantial and consistent efforts for two decades, against unreasonable barriers, to provide the voters of Arizona with meaningful alternatives to politics as usual

Anyone can run for office in the Party of their choosing, if they get enough signatures to show a decent level of support within the Party. Or they can run as a write-in candidate, and get the same number of write-in votes . The signatures or votes of party members is the “permission” that the party gives for them to be our candidates . Or, at least, that is the way that it is for other political parties. But ARS 16-645 creates a special category of political party, that only the Green Party fits into, where an individual doesn’t have to get permission or support from anybody else in the party. They can wait til the last minute to sign up as a write-in, and vote for themselves in the primary, and they get their name listed on the general election ballot as a Green Party candidate.

We want the ref to blow the whistle. We in the Arizona Green Party want our team to play by the same rules as other teams, and not have somebody in the stands deciding to be a player on our team. And especially not have our opponents recruiting field-rushers, handing them a uniform, and sending them out to disrupt a fair game.

So we are going to court, demanding the fairness that the US Constitution grants us, and putting a stop to sham candidates and special rules. Because we already HAVE a team, of real candidates, endorsed by us, who followed the rules, and gathered their signatures twice already– once from the general public to be a recognized political party, and a second time from party members, to show that Greens support their candidacy, and support the message they will be running on, in trying to offer the public new and better ideas than they can find elsewhere. Or old, forgotten ideas, like fair-play and Constitutional rights.

According to Newsweek, the last-minute candidates include the roommate of one of Rep. Weier’s daughters, “a tarot-card reader, and several drifters who hang out on Mill Avenue in Phoenix”. I love this quote:

Joe Yuhas, a partner in the Riester political-consulting firm, spent years in elected office in New Jersey in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s before moving to Arizona. He says that, when it comes to political shenanigans in Arizona, “the boldness is staggering.” His firm, he says, will soon launch a Web site to detail the abuses, and adds, “For a guy who cut his teeth in New Jersey politics and thought had seen it all, I’m astounded. The depth and breadth of it makes New Jersey races look like student-council elections.”

I dunno, some of those student council races can be pretty cutthroat. But point taken nonetheless. Local Texans has more.

Dems drop effort to remove Greens from the ballot

After the initial Supreme Court ruling, it was probably a long shot.

The Texas Democratic Party today cleared the way for Green Party candidates to remain on the ballot this year by dropping its state Supreme Court challenge to the legality of the Green’s ballot access petition drive.

However, the Democrats indicated the party will continue its lawsuit at a lower court level in an effort to obtain civil penalties in the case.

“Although the motion we filed today means it is almost certain that Green Party candidates will remain on the ballot in 2010, the facts demonstrate that the participants in this petition gathering scam acted improperly and we continue to seek penalties allowed by law,” said Democratic Chairman Boyd Richie.

Finding where the money trail leads is the main thing. Someone paid for that petition drive, and we have a right to know who it was. However that ends, I’m amazed at how many Republicans had a hand in trying to get the Greens on the ballot. You think maybe they’re a little worried? Postcards and BOR have more.

Revisiting the Libertarian effect

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.

Supremes give Greens a reprieve

They’re on the ballot for now.

The Texas Supreme Court today stayed a district judge’s order blocking the Green Party of Texas from certifying its candidates for the general election ballot.

The order allows the Green Party to legally establish a list of candidates for the general election. But the court also set a series of deadlines for lawyers for the Texas Democratic Party and the Green Party to argue whether a ballot petition drive illegally used corporate money. The Supreme Court still could knock the party off the ballot.

Democratic Party lawyer Chad Dunn said he does not believe the fight is over.

“The effect of the order is to give the Supreme Court time before they open up an enormous loophole for potential election fraud,” Dunn said.

Green Party lawyer David Rogers said, “We get to put our candidates on the ballot today. We don’t know if we get to keep them there.”

Coverage of the Tuesday court session is here. At the risk of giving the all-Republican Supreme Court too much credit, I think it’s reasonable for them to ask for further arguments. If it weren’t for the deadline, that’s what they would have done anyway. I think the evidence we’ve seen is pretty damning, enough to get the Texas League of Conservation Voters to publicly call out the Greens for taking aid from the GOP, but I’d rather the Supremes get it right slow than wrong fast. I just hope they do eventually get it right. BOR, the Trib, PDiddie, and the Lone Star Project have more.

Green Party appeals to Supreme Court

As expected.

Even if allegations about an illegal petition drive are true, knocking Green Party candidates off the November general election ballot before they can be proven imposes “a death penalty,” lawyers for the party argued Monday in a written appeal to the Texas Supreme Court.

The party has until Friday to certify its candidates for the fall election, but a judge last Friday ordered it not to proceed because of an “unauthorized illegal contribution” by a corporation with Republican links.

“This case matters because voters should have an alternative to entrenched career politicians. Despite the signatures of over 90,000 Texans, entrenched career politicians and their lawyers want to deny voters the right to choose in November,” said David Rogers, one of the Green Party lawyers.

Rogers, like everybody else working on behalf of the Green Party in this effort, is a professional Republican. Just as a reminder, the issue on which District Judge John Dietz based his ruling barring them from certifying their signatures was that anonymously-donated money used to pay for the third-party-run petition drive was illegal corporate cash. I understand the appeal to idealism here, but how do you address that underlying reality?

Testimony last week revealed that Mike Toomey, a close Perry friend and his former chief of staff, paid $12,000 to recent University of Texas graduate Garrett Mize to organize a petition drive to collect the 43,991 petition signatures necessary to get the Greens on the November ballot.

Mize testified he was approached by a family friend who worked for Eric Bearse, a former senior aide to Perry, and that he was told not to inform the Green Party of the financial backing. When that petition drive failed to get enough signatures, the out-of-state corporation Take Initiative America came in and completed the work. That group also has Republican connections.

Clearly, you address it by not talking about it and hoping that no one notices. Didn’t quite work out, I’m afraid.

One more point, from the DMN story:

Rogers dismissed the Democrats’ consipiracy theory to pull left-leaning voters away from White.

“If the Republican Party insiders are doing stuff like that, we wouldn’t know about it,” Rogers said. “If the Republicans are doing the right thing for the wrong reason, is it wrong or is it right?”

I’m not sure what Rogers means by “the right thing” here, but if ballot access were so important to the Republican Party and its insiders, it was well within their power to modify Texas’ laws that make it so hard for third parties and independent candidates to get certified. I don’t recall any bills being filed in the last four legislative sessions, during which the Republicans have been in full control, to that effect. Putting that aside, if they had done “the right thing” in proper fashion, we wouldn’t be having this argument in the first place.

Anyway. The Supreme Court is expected to rule by Friday, which is the deadline for parties to certify their candidates for November. That may not be the end of it, however.

Candidates for the ballot have to be certified by Friday. The Supreme Court could say that the order from District Judge John Dietz came too late in the process and is therefore moot, or it could say that the contribution was not an illegal use of corporate money, or it could temporarily allow the Green candidates on the ballot while justices take more time to study the case.

But there are other legal ramifications lurking out there. Election lawyer Buck Wood, who often helps Democratic candidates, said Monday that the Green Party leaders who certify the ballot could be susceptible to criminal charges if the Supreme Court agrees with Dietz that the money that got the Greens onto the ballot was an illegal corporate contribution. Or, more to the point, if they do not disagree with Dietz.

They would become vulnerable if they followed through with their plan to certify the candidates on the ballot, Wood said. The key is that they now know that it was a corporate contribution that came in from Take Initiative America, which paid for the petition drive that appeared to make the Greens eligible for the ballot.

“They’ve been told it’s illegal. They’ve got knowledge now,” Wood said. “If I were their lawyer, I’d say, ‘You go ahead and certify those names and hopefully the Travis County district attorney’s office won’t take an interest in you.’”

David Rogers, a lawyer for the Green Party, said, “With all due respect to Mr. Wood, who is a very fine election law attorney, I believe he is misreading the law in an attempt to gain an electoral advantage for the Democratic Party. He is a consultant for the Democrats in this matter, and all his comments regarding the law in this case need to be considered with that in mind. Texas allows corporate contributions for ‘normal operating expenses’ of a political party. If getting on the ballot isn’t a ‘normal’ expense of a political party, what is?”

Actually, it’s well established that this law refers to “administrative” expenses – things like rent and utilities and office supplies. Corporate money cannot be used on political expenses, which I daresay covers signature gathering for a ballot access petition. But what do I know? We’ll see what the Supremes have to say.

Greens booted from the ballot

A judge in Austin has ruled in favor of the Texas Democratic Party in a motion to bar the Green Party from the ballot this fall on the grounds that the funds used to collect their signatures were illegal corporate contributions.

Attorneys for the Green Party said they would quickly appeal to the Texas Supreme Court in hopes of meeting a July 2 deadline to get the list of candidates to the state secretary of state for a spot on the ballot.

“We have to have the right to carry these nominees over to the secretary of state’s office and if that’s prohibited, the election moves on without the Texas Green Party nominees,” said attorney Steven Smith, a former Republican state Supreme Court Justice who is representing the Green Party.

State District Judge John Dietz ruled that restricted corporate money was used to support the signature drive and did not comply with state election law. The judge said he expected an appellate court to stay his decision.

“We’re obviously never happy about making it difficult for parties or interests to get on the ballot, but we couldn’t stand for corporations coordinated by the inner circle of Rick Perry’s office trying to buy access for another party,” said Chad Dunn, general counsel for the Texas Democratic Party.

The most interesting testimony concerned Rick Perry’s former chief of staff.

Mike Toomey, a lobbyist and former chief of staff to Gov. Rick Perry, personally paid for an aborted effort to qualify the Green Party of Texas for the ballot, according to court testimony Thursday morning.

The testimony came from Garrett Mize, who led the failed petition effort beginning last fall. He said Toomey paid him $2,000 a month for about six months with a personal check.

[…]

Mize was approached to run the effort by a family friend, Stuart Moss, who at the time worked for a Republican political consulting and public relations firm run by former Perry communications director Eric Bearse. Bearse said Moss no longer works for him.

Mize quit the effort in April after he grew uncomfortable that Republican interests were driving the initiative and not informing the Green Party.

That wasn’t the only money being spent by Republican operatives working hard to get the Greens on the ballot, of course. There was a whole lot more where that came from.

A group with ties to Republicans paid $532,500 to gather petition signatures to land the Green Party of Texas on this year’s state ballot.

At least one high-ranking Green Party official thinks that money was a corporate donation.

[…]

In a June 10 e-mail to other Green Party officials, state party treasurer David Wager said, “I was promised by a representative of Take Initiative America that the organization was not a corporation and that he would comply with all disclosure requests. Today I was informed that the organization is in fact a corporation and they will not disclose their donors. They claim that their collection of signatures and in-kind contribution was not political. I don’t agree. In my opinion, we have no choice but to refuse the signatures.”

That sure sounds like a problem to me. Did you notice how many professional Republicans are helping out the Greens in this effort? Smith, Toomey, Andy Taylor, David Rogers, Cleta Mitchell – it’s almost as if this were really important to them.

Anyway. The Greens will appeal to the Supreme Court, where anything can happen, so they may yet have a chance. The Trib and the Lone Star Project have more.

Greens hire Andy Taylor

Dear Green Party: If you need to hire Andy Taylor to achieve your political goals, then you’re doing it wrong. I just thought you’d like to know that.

Greens temporarily make the ballot

The Texas Secretary of State has certified the petition signatures to allow the Green Party on the ballot this fall.

On Wednesday, the secretary of state’s office announced that the party had presented sufficient signatures to field candidates in the fall. The party hasn’t fielded a statewide slate since 2002.

Buck Wood, an Austin lawyer and expert in election law, said the Green Party could have problems if it lists Take Initiative America as the donor instead of the actual source of the funding.

He says Texas law requires more transparency in reporting political money. He said if Take Initiative America is a corporation, it is forbidden from making a donation. If the company is not a corporation, there are other reporting requirements aimed at better disclosing the original donor, he said.

[Kat Swift, state coordinator for the Green Party in Texas] said if the party gets written confirmation that it can legally list Take Initiative America as the in-kind donor, it intends to move forward and field candidates in the fall campaign. She said the group has until June 30 to make the decision.

The TDP has now filed suit to force the disclosure of the donor or donors’ identity.

The motion for a restraining order was filed this morning in district court in Austin. If granted, it would allow lawyers for the Democratic Party to take depositions of participants under oath to find out who bankrolled the effort.

And just like that, a temporary restraining order is granted.

[The TRO] will prevent the Green Party from certifying any candidates for the November ballot for the next 14 days. The big question is whether the Green Party’s use of out-of-state money to gather the more then 92,000 signatures they submitted to get on the ballot (well above the 44,000 necessary) violates state law.

[…]

Regarding today’s decision, TDP General Counsel Chad Dunn said, “The public should view this as a victory for fair elections.” Ultimately, he said, his goal is to expose a “conspiracy between Dave Carney and Tim Mooney,” the former being a prominent advisor to Republican Gov. Rick Perry.

The issue will be revisited at a hearing set for 9 a.m. on June 24. In the meantime, Dunn says he will be in the discovery process getting to the bottom of what he referred to as “this Republican Rick Perry conspiracy.”

If you’re wondering what Dave Carney has to do with this, let the Lone Star Project enlighten you.

Documents obtained by the Lone Star Project reveal that Rick Perry’s top political advisor Dave Carney has a long and direct link to the manager of the Texas Green Party/GOP ballot scam. In 2004, Carney teamed-up with Texas ballot scam leader Tim Mooney to gather signatures to put Ralph Nader on the ballot in order to assist the George W. Bush Presidential campaign.

In 2004, Carney worked with a group called “Choices for America, LLC” which was “run” by Mooney – the same Republican operative who collected signatures for the Green Party of Texas in 2010. (Dallas Morning News, August 12, 2004) Both Choices for America, LLC, the shell group used in 2004, and Take Initiative America, LLC the shell group used in 2010, are registered to Charles Hurth III. (Missouri SOS)

According to the Dallas Morning News, “Perry campaign spokesman Mark Miner said the governor’s campaign had nothing to do with the petition-gathering effort.” It now appears that statement is likely not true.

Now you know why these guys like to operate in secret. I agree with what the DMN says.

The bottom line on Texas campaign-finance law is that corporations, either for-profit or nonprofit, can’t legally contribute to candidates or to parties, except to cover party administrative expenses. Yet the Green Party says it intends to report the nonprofit Take Initiative America as the source of an in-kind contribution.

The legality of the money behind the Green petitions needs to be tested in court. The secretary of state’s office will validate signatures but does not administer campaign-finance laws. Campaign finance is the purview of the Texas Ethics Commission, which typically investigates complaints and levies fines.

Other scenarios that would root out the facts involve a civil action by Democrats or an investigation by the Travis County district attorney. Either way, the integrity of the finance laws must be ensured.

The reason why the money came from the non-profit Take Initiative America to the Green Party is because Take Initiative America doesn’t have to disclose who its donors are. For all we know, it’s one wealthy person who wrote the check that covered the cost of getting the petition signatures. The fact that this can be done in secret is the problem. We have a right to know who is attempting to influence our elections. BOR has more.

Were the Green signatures obtained illegally?

Wayne Slater follows up his previous reporting on the petition signatures that were gathered by an outside organization for the Green Party with the question about the legality of it.

It’s unclear who paid for the petition drive, but funding went through Take Initiative America, a Missouri nonprofit corporation. Buck Wood, an Austin lawyer and expert in election law, said Monday that such a transaction is illegal under state law.

“That corporation cannot make contributions to political parties in Texas. And to do so is a felony,” he said. “It is also a felony for a political party to accept a corporate contribution.”

[…]

Wood said that while an individual donor could legally bankroll petition drives to put a party on the ballot, corporations cannot. Wood has represented Democrats in litigation in which corporate money was illegally used to defeat political candidates.

In the case of the Texas Green Party, a Chicago-based petition-gathering company, Free and Equal Inc., gathered the signatures under contract with Take Initiative America.

It’s unclear whether the petitions could be disallowed based on how the Green Party reports the donation. But the party and its leaders could face significant penalties if they are found to break the law.

The Texas secretary of state is reviewing the signatures submitted by the Green Party. If the agency validates the petitions, the party will be on the ballot in November. A decision is expected by the end of the month.

I have a lot of respect for Buck Wood, who knows a hell of a lot about election law, but he’s not exactly a disinterested bystander here. I’d like to hear from some more experts to see if there’s a consensus view on this. I’m also unclear about whether or not the Secretary of State’s ruling on the signatures’ validity includes consideration of the issue that Wood raises, or if their only mandate is to check to see if the signers are registered voters who did not participate in the primaries. If so, then I presume a lawsuit would have to be filed to challenge the legality of the petitions and their funding source. Can anyone confirm this? Thanks.

Who helped the Greens get on the ballot?

According to Wayne Slater, it was “an out-of-state Republican consultant with a history of helping conservative causes and GOP candidates.”

Green Party officials said an outside group gathered the 92,000 signatures and gave them as “a gift” to the party, which delivered them to the secretary of state, who oversees Texas elections. If the secretary of state determines that enough of them are valid, the party will be able to field a slate of candidates for statewide offices for the first time since 2002.

[…]

Christina Tobin, who heads a Chicago-based petition-gathering company called Free and Equal Inc., said she was approached by [Arizona Republican operative Tim] Mooney to collect signatures for the Green Party of Texas.

Another group, Take Initiative America, based in Missouri, would provide payment, Mooney said.

Mooney estimated the cost at $200,000, but declined to give a specific figure or say who put up the money.

“Take Initiative America, being a nonprofit, doesn’t disclose its donors, nor is it required to,” said Mooney, who has little history of working in Texas. “Take Initiative America is a nonpartisan organization. They’d like to see everybody have a chance to get on the ballot – the more choices the better.”

[…]

Kat Swift, state coordinator for the Texas Green Party, said restrictions in Texas – including a short period for petition-gathering and a requirement that signers be registered voters who did not participate in the primary – are tough for third parties to overcome.

“If it hadn’t been for that donation, we wouldn’t have been on the ballot,” she said.

In an online solicitation to supporters, the Green Party offered petition-gatherers $4 per signature, thanks to what the party on its Facebook page called “last minute fairy tale funding.” At that rate, the effort would have cost between $200,000 and $350,000.

She said the Green Party will report the signatures as an in-kind contribution on its next campaign finance report. Take Initiative America will appear as the donor. No law requires the group to disclose its contributors.

Swift said she has no concern that the funding to get her party on the ballot might have come from Republicans who don’t share the party’s liberal philosophy on issues.

“Wherever the money came from doesn’t bother me,” she said. “If it came from Democrats, which I doubt, or if it came from Republicans – whoever made this donation supports an open ballot, open democracy. And that’s the whole point. People are trying to open the ballot to increase democracy and so, who cares how they vote?”

I have a hard time believing Kat Swift is that naive, but whatever. This is far from the first time that Republicans have done this sort of thing – it happened all over the place in 2004, with Ralph Nader – and it’s far from the last. What really bugs me is the anonymous nature of it all. I’ve seen so many cases of big bucks Republican and conservative donors contributing anonymously, or demanding the right to contribute anonymously, to affect the outcome of an election. I have no idea what they’re so afraid of, or why they’re so ashamed to sign their names to their work, but it’s all very typical. Good for the Greens, I guess, but forgive me for not viewing this as some great victory for democracy. BOR, PDiddie, and Harvey Kronberg have more.

Here come the Greens

As Perry noted the other day, the Green Party of Texas submitted petitions to the Secretary of State to get on the ballot in certain races in Texas. They failed to do so in 2006, so this will be the first time in eight years that you will see them on your eSlate machine, assuming nothing goes wrong for them from here. As I have heard some concerns about Green candidates potentially siphoning votes away from Democratic candidates, let’s take a look at the 2002 races that featured Greens and see how they did.

Below are all the races that included a Democrat, a Republican, and a Green. Note that in almost every case, there was a Libertarian as well. In 16 races in which there was both a Libertarian candidate and a Green candidate, the Libertarian averaged 1.43%, while the Green averaged 1.03%. In 13 of the 16 races, the Libertarian finished ahead of the Green candidate. The exceptions were in the races for Comptroller (Bowie Ibarra (L), 1.19%; Ruben Reyes (G), 1.72%); Ag Commissioner (Vincent May (L), 1.17%; Jane Elioseff (G), 1.46%); and Congress in (pre-DeLay redistricting) District 25 (Guy McClendon (L), 0.94%; George Reiter (G), 1.20%). Though the latter was won by a Democrat (Chris Bell), I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the two statewide races in which the Green outdrew the Lib featured the two worst-performing Democrats in Marty Akins and Tom Ramsay.

There were two statewide races, one for the Supreme Court and one for the CCA, that had a Green but no Lib. In those races, the Green did better than average, scoring 1.75% and 1.73%, respectively. Note, however, that there were also two statewide races (not listed below) that featured a Lib but no Green, and in those races (also one for Supreme Court and one for the CCA), the Libertarian got 1.83% and 2.23%. Downballot, there were three such races, for SBOE District 5, and for State House districts 45 and 47. Here is where the Greens did their best, getting 3.21% in SBOE5, 3.24% in HD45, and 4.13% in HD47. (I did not survey downballot races with just a Libertarian, but I did notice that the SBOE race was a three-way in which the Lib got 5.80%.) The middle one, for HD45, was the only close race in the entire list, and the only one in which the Green candidate might have had an effect on the outcome, as Democratic candidate Patrick Rose won a squeaker with less than 49% of the vote. In the other two races, neither Dem cracked 40%.

Now, 2010 is a different environment than 2002, and I wouldn’t want to draw too broad an inference from these limited data points. My very tentative conclusions are that at the statewide and Congressional level, Green candidates are unlikely to have much effect. In nine of the sixteen races, the Green received less than one percent of the vote. If as many people believe, Libertarians tend to draw their votes away from Republican candidates, they will take more votes away than Greens will from Dems. Again, it could be different this year, but that’s how it looked in 2002. The effect may be greater in local races, such as for State Rep, and if I were to be concerned about an outcome being affected, that’s one place I’d worry about.

It’s also possible the effect could be greater at the county level. There was one race in Harris County that featured a Green and a Libertarian, and that was for County Judge. In that race, the Green candidate, Deborah Shafto (who ran for City Council last year as a member of the Progressive Coalition), did better than the Libertarian candidate, getting 2.06% to his 1.21%. Given that the Republican was incumbent Robert Eckels and the Democrat was some guy I’ve never heard of, candidate quality for the Ds and Rs may have been a factor, I don’t know. This year, there will also be one such race, for County Clerk, where Shafto’s fellow Progressive Coalition candidate from 2009 Don Cook will be on the ballot. Like Perry, I’m a bit concerned about the possibility that the presence of a Green candidate could give the Republican candidate an edge, but there’s nothing to be done other than to urge support of the Democratic candidate, Ann Harris Bennett. We’ll see how it goes.

One last thing: As noted by Ballot Access News, if a Green candidate gets 5% in any statewide race, or 2% in the Governor’s race, they will automatically qualify for the ballot in 2012, with the latter getting them on through 2014. I think there’s very little chance of that happening based on what we saw in 2002, where that 1.75% I cited earlier was the best any Green did, but given the lack of a Democrat in the Comptroller’s race, the odds of them qualifying for 2012 are excellent.

Anyway. Click on to see all the races that included a Green Party candidate from 2002.

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