August 05, 2008
The Libertarians and the Speaker

Yesterday I blogged at Kuff's World about a story in the Statesman in which retiring State Rep. Suzanna Hupp placed calls to a couple of Libertarian Party candidates in State House races urging them to drop out rather than risk tilting those seats, and control of the House, to the Democrats. Now here's a followup story about a meeting between the LP and House Speaker Tom Craddick.

Both sides described Monday's meeting, which the speaker's office arranged last week, as an effort to look for common ground. Both sides said they did not talk about specific legislative races during the 20-minute meeting.

"We were talking about issues where we have agreement," Craddick spokeswoman Alexis DeLee said.

Those areas of agreement apparently do not include the fall campaigns.

Pat Dixon, the Libertarian Party's state chairman, said he is urging the party's candidates to stay on the November ballot.

"We're committed to having our candidates do their best to grow the party," Dixon said.

The only Libertarian candidate to drop off the ballot in Central Texas so far is Alan Hultgren, who was running against state Rep. Valinda Bolton, D-Austin, and Republican Donna Keel.

Hultgren said Monday that he quit because he is starting a business and was worried that he might help Bolton by staying in.

"I can honestly say there was no external pressure," he said. "I just thought the lesser of the two evils would be the Republican Party."

Hultgren aside, I think in general the LP would consider their ability to swing a race to be a feature and not a bug. They can point to races where they had an effect and say, presumably to the GOP, "See, if you did stuff we liked, you might have won." As that's the basic argument Ralph Nader made to the Democrats in 2000, it's not one I put a whole lot of stock in, but that's beside the point. From their perspective, it's perfectly sensible and reasonable.

I will say that for Tom Craddick to take this step strikes me as just a wee bit desperate. I mean, these are the same legislative districts that were drawn in 2001 to elect 100 Republicans, and now they're wooing the Libertarian Party in order to hold onto a slim majority? How the mighty have fallen, that's all I can say.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 05, 2008 to Election 2008
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