Why Texas is Important
“If the Republican Party insiders are doing stuff like that, we wouldn’t know about it,” [Green Party attorney David] Rogers said. “If the Republicans are doing the right thing for the wrong reason, is it wrong or is it right?”
The Dallas Morning News article here pretty much sums up where we are at with the Green Party of Texas ballot access story. A Texas Judge, who is a “lifelong” Democrat has blocked the Green Party of Texas from running a handful of state wide candidates. The GP of Texas has appealed, taken to the GOP controlled Supreme Court, and a Friday deadline looms as the last opportunity to put those candidates on the ballot.
This Texas ballot access story may be the most important story of the year in terms of its implications.
First, it is very similar to the Romanelli situation in Pennsylvania when Republicans were largely behind the funding for a 60,000 plus petition drive to get the Pennsylvania Green on the ballot. Although the funding was legal, all from individuals that did not exceed state limits, the Green Party signatures were not only thrown out by the Democrats but over $80,000 in court costs was slapped down to Romanelli to further punish the Greens for daring to surpass ballot access barriers. How can the ethics of the Green Party be questioned given the unethical and clearly self-preserving actions of the Democrats? Why are Democrats allowed to take money from Republicans and do whatever they can to increase their chances of winning while the Green Party is called unethical for doing the same thing?
Second, while the Democrats don’t hide the fact that for them this is all about eliminating competition in the Governor’s race between White and Perry, for the Green Party this is all about 2012. For the Texas Greens it may be about ballot access, but for the Green Party of the United States this has implications in recruiting a viable candidate for President in 2012. Being able to offer a ballot line in Texas, the second most populous state in the union, is a real big deal sweetener.
Third is the question of whether the cost of petitioning is an “administrative cost” for political parties or not. The Green Party of Texas claims it is, because if they can’t get signatures then they can’t run candidates. The onerous ballot access barriers are an administrative hurdle to cross.
Fourth is the issue of ballot access barriers. The one question major media outlets seem to be brushing over is why the Green Party requires 42,000 signatures from registered voters who did not vote in the primary, but the Democrats and Republicans don’t have to do that? In many states there is an equal access to the ballot. In Wisconsin, for example, whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or Green, you need 2,000 signatures to run for state wide office, 1,000 to run for US House of Representatives, 400 for State Senate, 200 for State legislature. There is a uniform application of ballot access requirements. Why do states like Texas and Pennsylvania have tiered access rules that inherently benefit the two parties in power?
Finally, how will the three parties be impacted by this in terms of public perception? Will the Republicans look slimy for paying over a half a million dollars to put some leftist competition on the ballot? Will the Democrats look like creeps for legally challenging the will of over 90,000 Texas voters? Will the Green Party look like puppets, or instead like innocent victims who just wanted the right to run candidates for state wide office?
Some stories on the topic:
Texas Green Party files appeal for candidates (Dallas Morning News, 6/28/10)
Texas Green Party Appeals Ballot Decision (Wall Street Journal,6/28/10)
Judge blocks Green Party candidates from Texas ballot (Dallas Morning News, 6/25/10)
Texas Democrats sue to find who bankrolled Green Party petitions (Dallas Morning News, 6/11/10)