Better late than never
There's a movement afoot to get write-in candidates on the ballot for the general election in CD 10.
Professor Lorenzo Sadun, who holds a Ph.D. certifying that he can do the math, understands the challenge he would face as a potential Democratic write-in candidate in the 10th Congressional District.
"I figure this is a district that was designed so no Democrat can win against a responsible Republican opponent," said Sadun, a University of Texas math professor. "But I don't think we have a responsible Republican opponent."
For weeks, Republicans Michael McCaul and Ben Streusand, who meet in Tuesday's GOP runoff, have been telling audiences that their contest is the de facto general election because no Democrats filed in the race.
By most measures, the district, which includes a third of Travis County and stretches to suburban Houston, is at least 60 percent Republican.
Sadun, who teaches a probability course, understands what that means. But he is moving forward with the effort to qualify as a write-in candidate in November.
"We can't give up the district without a fight. Nobody else seems willing to, so I said, 'OK, I'll do it,' " Sadun, 43, said.
The first hurdle is a state law that says write-in candidates can participate only if they pay the filing fee ($3,125 in a U.S. House race) or get petition signatures (500 in this case).
Sadun is going the petition route and faces a Sept. 3 deadline. Any registered voter living in the district can sign a petition for one write-in candidate per race.
Among those interested and intrigued by Sadun's long-shot effort is Washington County Democratic Chairman Duane Olney. Washington County is in the district.
"People need a choice," Olney said. "It will be difficult, yes, but it is not impossible."
In addition to Sadun's effort, other potential write-in candidates are trying to get on the ballot.
I'll get back to the issue of needing a choice in a minute. For now, I'm trying to understand what it means to be a write-in candidate. The relevant laws can be found here
. My non-lawyerly reading of them suggests to me that only those who've jumped through the official hoops will have their write-in votes certified and thus counted. As such, "other potential write-in candidates are trying to get on the ballot" is misleading, since by definition write-in candidates' names don't appear on the ballot. They want to ensure that the voters who do write them in get their votes counted. Does that sound right to you?
Now here's a question for the election judges in my audience: How do the eSlate machines handle write-ins? Do you have to make a special request when you present your voter's reg card? If there's been a spot for "Other (please specify)" on my ballots in the past, I've not noticed it.
As for the question of providing a choice, I'm certainly glad that the GOP runoff next Tuesday may not be the final word. But I have to ask: Why are we just now trying to get a Democrat on the ballot?
Sadun, who has never sought elected office, said it's important for him to be something more than the traditional write-in candidate making a quixotic effort.
"I've been figuring from the start the only way a write-in candidacy can be taken seriously is if it is the de facto Democratic nominee, not if he is one guy running as a write-in candidate," said Sadun, who has been making the rounds at local Democratic functions.
Sadun, having looked at the numbers, said he has concluded that "a Democrat cannot win this."
But, he added, "A Republican can lose this, and Streusand and McCaul are off to a good start" toward that end.
I'm sure he's right about the magnitude of the challenge. Whether he succeeds at getting qualified or not, though, the fact that he'll be a write-in candidate is in my mind a failure of the state Democratic Party and all of the relevant county parties. I simply cannot believe that between Travis and Harris Counties, there wasn't at least one activist type who'd have jumped at the chance to run in CD 10 if he or she could have gotten some logistical and financial support. I'm not talking about serious-chance-of-winning kind of support, since that would clearly be a poor investment. Just some logistical support to navigate the candidate filing process and a list of names of friendly contacts. This district may be heavily Republican, but there's still going to be thousands of Democrats living there who deserve a reason to go to the polls in November. How are you ever going to grow your base if you don't feed and water the base you've already got?
Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 07, 2004 to Election 2004
Whether he succeeds at getting qualified or not, though, the fact that he'll be a write-in candidate is in my mind a failure of the state Democratic Party and all of the relevant county parties.
I suppose to do a write-in on eSlate, you'd have to have a slot for it where you dial the wheel to spell out the letters of the candidate's name -- which would mean that write-ins would HAVE to be hand-figured-out at some point, to allow for misspellings or variants on the name entries. Urk.
And if I lived in that district, I'd sign the petition in a heartbeat; having taken two classes from Dr. Sadun during my brief grad school career, I can certainly vouch for his brains, public speaking ability, and ability to listen and think about problems.
I understand there were a number of Democrats who were in line to sign up the final day for filing, but when the deadline passed, none had.
The reasons I heard were that no one wanted the stain of being crushed in a race they couldn't win.
But, IMO, if the Democratic Party would have put out a call for candidates, any number of people, from Austin to Houston, would have filed. How cool would it be to say "I'm running for Congress!"
Either the TDP is disorganized, demoralized, or has some kind of hidden agenda.
Additionally, there were a number of people who didn't know that Lloyd Doggett had switched to the 25th district.
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