Further thoughts on the Dems defenestrating the Green candidates

But first, the Chron story about yesterday’s legal action.

An appellate court on Wednesday blocked three Green Party candidates from the November ballot because they failed to pay candidate filing fees.

The candidates are David Collins, who was running for Senate; Tom Wakely, who was running for the 21st Congressional District, and Katija “Kat” Gruene, who was running for the Railroad Commission. The legal challenge was filed by their Democratic opponents: MJ Hegar, Wendy Davis and Chrysta Castañeda, respectively.

Two members of a three-judge panel of the court sided with the Democrats late Wednesday.

In their majority opinion, Justice Thomas Baker wrote that Wakely, Gruene and Collins are ineligible to appear on the ballot and compelled the Green Party to “take all steps within their authority” to ensure they don’t appear on the ballot. Due to the time sensitivity, Baker said the court would not entertain motions for a rehearing.

Chief Justice Jeff Rose dissented, saying providing no other explanation than that relief was “not appropriate based on the record before us.”


Davis’ campaign declined to comment. Hegar’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Randy Howry, Hegar’s lawyer in the Travis County case, referred questions about the impetus for the suit to attorney Alexi Velez, who was not available for comment.

Castañeda said the suit was a matter of fairness and that the timing was “based on the fact that the Green Party tactics only recently came to light.”

“I and my fellow candidates worked very hard to get on the ballot, and the statute is clear for all of us,” she said, adding that if the candidates didn’t want to or couldn’t pay the fee, they “could have acquired the signatures to petition to be on the ballot but chose not to do so.”


Wakely said it was clear to him that the last-minute pile-on of lawsuits was a coordinated strategy to eliminate competition. He added that it was curious that Libertarian candidates, including the one in his 21st District race, Arthur DiBianca, who also did not pay fees, were facing similar scrutiny.

Gruene added that the last-minute nature of the case also seems to be part of the Democrats’ strategy, as it leaves the Green candidates without many options for relief.

Charles Waterbury, a lawyer for the Green Party candidates, agreed that the timing seemed like a tactic and said Democrats should have raised the issue sooner.

“The Democrats waited so long for what I would argue is kind of an artificial emergency,” Waterbury said. “If this is such a huge deal, if keeping the juggernaut that is the Green Party off the ballot is so important, this is something they should have filed way before. … They know the difficulty faced by a party like the Greens is basically insurmountable.”

Gruene said she views the suit against her in the same way as Wakely.

“It’s a way to siderail a campaign to shift into dealing with legal matters instead of campaigning,” Gruene said. “The Democratic Party has always seen the Green Party as their opposition, and they, from 2001 until today, have used lawsuits as a way to bankrupt candidates, bankrupt parties and prevent voters from having the choice of voting for Green Party candidates.”

See here and here for the background. Let me begin by saying that yes indeed, the Democratic Party and the Green Party are opponents, by definition. Only one candidate in a race can get elected, so by definition every candidate in a given race is an opponent to the others. I have no patience at all for the whining of these candidates about how mean the Democrats are being to them because I am old enough to remember the 2010 election, in which deep-pocketed Republican backers paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to help Green candidates get on that year’s ballot, an act of charity that the Green Party was only too happy to accept. Those Republicans did that with the intent of making it just a bit harder for Bill White to beat Rick Perry in the Governor’s race. It turned out they needn’t have bothered, but that wasn’t the point. So please spare me the hand-wringing, and pay the filing fee or collect the petition signatures as long as that is required by law, or face the consequences of your actions.

Along those same lines, I respectfully disagree with RG Ratcliffe:

I have never voted for the Green Party and never will, but it is really chickenshit of Texas Democrats to complain about voter suppression and then try to suppress the choices of voters who want to cast ballots for candidates of a party with ballot access over a filing fee the party candidates did not have to pay until this year. And this is about more than a few candidates, this is about denying the Greens ballot access in the future.

I don’t agree that challenging candidates who did not follow the law as written – and please note, a couple of the Green candidates did pay the filing fee, so it’s not that they all shared this principle or all lacked the ability to pay – is in the same universe as passing discriminatory voter ID laws, refusing to expand vote by mail in a pandemic, aggressively pursuing felony prosecutions against people who made honest mistakes (two words: Crystal Mason), but I’ll allow that filing these motions to oust the Greens is not exactly high-minded. To respond to that, let me bring in Evan Mintz:

Here’s an important lesson: Hypocrisy in politics isn’t a bug. It’s a feature. There is no grand umpire or arbiter who punishes elected officials for inconsistency (besides the voters, and they usually don’t mind). Politics isn’t about truth; it’s about power. If past positions get in the way, change them.

I’d say that’s a lesson they don’t teach you in school, but actually they do. Rice University graduate student Matt Lamb told me it’s the first thing he teaches students in his Introduction to American Politics class: “Politics is about power.”

It’s the power to implement an agenda, impose one’s own morality on others, or distribute resources. It’s the reason people try to get elected in the first place.

Texas Democrats must’ve missed that class, because for the past 30 years or so they’ve acted as if noble intentions alone are enough to merit statewide office. Uphold the process. Act professionally. Do the right thing. Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said essentially that in a May conference call with journalists in response to the governor’s plan on ending COVID lockdowns. “The Democratic Party is not looking at the response through a political lens,” he said. “We’re looking at what is good for the public. If that costs us votes, so be it.”

There’s a slight flaw in Hinojosa’s plan: You can’t pursue the public good if you don’t get the public vote.

I’d say it’s clearly the case that the Democrats took legal action to remove these Green Party candidates from the ballot for the same reason why the Republicans paid money in 2010 to help put them on the ballot: They want to increase the chances that their candidates can win these elections. Obviously, there are limitations to this. One need only look at the utter degradation of the Republican Party and the principles it once held on subjects like free trade and personal morality under Donald Trump, where the only principle they now have is winning at all costs for the sake of holding onto power, to understand this. I’d like the Democratic candidates I support to hold principles that I support as well. But you also have to try your best to win elections, because as I’ve said way too many times over the past decade-plus, nothing will change in this state until the Dems start winning more elections. If that means I have to live with the knowledge that we booted some Green Party candidates off the ballot for the purpose of maybe upping our odds some small amount, I’ll do that. If you want to judge me for that, you are free to do so. I can live with that, too.

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18 Responses to Further thoughts on the Dems defenestrating the Green candidates

  1. SocraticGadfly says:

    It IS chickenshit, and it’s also chickenshit or something related that the feds aren’t hearing the Green-Libertarian-Independent lawsuit over HB 2504 until next year. And, it’s chickenshit that you didn’t mention, re HB 2504, why Ratcliffe said it was chickenshit.

  2. SocraticGadfly says:

    OK, in case Kuff has filters on for content ….

    It IS chicken poopy, and it’s also chicken poopy or something related that the feds aren’t hearing the Green-Libertarian-Independent lawsuit over HB 2504 until next year. And, it’s chicken doodoo that you didn’t mention, re HB 2504, why Ratcliffe said it was chicken doodoo

  3. SocraticGadfly says:

    It’s also “specious” for Dems to claim that because the Dikeman lawsuit district court injunction is on appeal, it doesn’t apply. And, assuming that THIS ruling is appealed, this TRO will, by the same logic … and geese and ganders

  4. No content filters in the comments, unless they’re enabled by default.

    The Dikeman injunction appeal was cited in the mandamus request to the Supreme Court. These rulings came from Travis County district court and the Third Court of Appeals, neither of which apply to the mandamus request.

    I quoted RG’s Facebook post in full. It’s a public post, feel free to click the link and see for yourself. I did not quote the comments, mostly because there weren’t any at the time that I wrote this.

  5. David Fagan says:

    If Republicans are wolves, Democrats are wolves in sheep’s clothing. I don’t know what kind of “change” you’re looking for, Democrats have run this state up until the late 90’s. A Democrat for railroad commissioner will change things? The railroad commission’s laws were established by Democrats. Want more equality? Texas was run by Democrats during some of the most racist eras of this country’s history. Evan Mintz has a great point. Politics is about power, corruption is a feature, but one thing I disagree with is that voters do, actually, mind. But if voters are told they have a choice of fruit, but, in the entire world of fruit, they can only choose an apple or an orange, and not any apple or orange, but one specific apple and one specific orange, even though they both may be rotten, the voter does not choose what they want, they choose against what they know they don’t want. That’s not a choice at all. Once again, who put this new “fee” in place and why? It wasn’t the green party, or the libertarian party, it was by those who are in power and seek to keep it. The result is right back to the same two choices, rotten apples, or rotten oranges.

  6. Flypusher says:

    So what would it take to get Instant Runoff Voting in TX? Would a bill passed by the Lege do? Does it need to be a Constitutional Amendment? Can cities/counties opt to implement it on their own?

    I am not touting this as a political cure all, but it would make the playing field more level for the minor parties like the Greens and the Libertarians. It would also give the major parties some incentive to reign in the extremes. Also who would miss runoff elections?

  7. David Fagan says:

    Voting should be held with the same importance as the census, if you don’t participate someone will show up at your door and go through the questions with you. If that’s not plausible enough, I would support a minimum voting population law where if a vote doesn’t get 80% of registered voters participating, the election starts over from square one.

  8. Flypusher – Probably just the Lege, since it’s all just regular laws that govern when a majority is needed and when a runoff is required. Note that there are no runoffs for November-of-even-year elections, though.

  9. David Fagan says:

    Reading this section of the law referenced in this post:

    SECTION 2.  Section 181.005, Election Code, is amended by adding Subsection (c) to read as follows:        (c)  A political party is entitled to have the names of its nominees placed on the general election ballot, without qualifying under Subsection (a) or (b), if the party had a nominee for a statewide office who received a number of votes equal to at least two percent of the total number of votes received by all candidates for that office at least once in the five previous general elections.

    Subsection a and b refer to the applied fees and, it sounds like, the other parties did not have to pay the fee, or be affected by the new law. So, does that seem right? Write a law that limits access to your own govt? Who cares, right?

  10. SocraticGadfly says:

    Texas Dems have been bitching about HB 2504 from the day it was passed. Claimed it was anti-Dem. The original version had ONLY the duopoly party filing fees, which ARE bullshit for the reasons stated in the federal suit AND the Dikeman state suit. (Note to Kuff: “Chickenshit” DID trigger “moderation” which is why I copied and retyped as “poopy.”)

    Tis true that you quoted RG’s original post in full. You didn’t go back to follow up comments by him, which get at the “specious” idea.

    Third? Gloating over this is anti-Dale Carnegie, whether you’ve even thought about this … or care. Had DBC not filed for the Senate seat and there been no Green in the first place? I’d undervote the Senate race. No way I’d vote for former Libertarian voter and current War Democrat Hegar.

    Had Gruene not been in the RRC race, I could see voting Castañeda. But now? Your precious Texas Dem leadership will watch me undervote that one, too, if the knockout effort succeeds.

  11. SocraticGadfly says:

    Notes to others:

    Flypusher: Neither duopoly party wants IRV. Note Rethuglicans’ suit that attempted to (and laughably failed to) block it in Maine, just a couple of weeks ago. So, it would “just” take a vote of the Lege, but here in Texas? Ain’t.Gonna.Happen to quote Poppy Bush via Dana Carvey.

    Likewise, even though Dems have had two Electoral College losses this century, other than Warren’s one brief push for it, they’ve never talked seriously about a constitutional amendment to junk it. They’d rather use the brute force of the EC to try to force voters into the duopoly straitjacket.

    Fagan: Many countries in continental Europe have mandatory voting. They also have multiparty parliamentary democracy, usually with some form of proportional representation rather than FPTP single-member districts. If you thought it was hard, per my comment to Flypusher, to get IRV, let alone to junk the Electoral College, those would be chlld’s play compared to this.

    Note to Kuff re my previous post: The “gloat” is primarily directed at the TDP; nonetheless, I believe you’re manifesting elements of it yourself.

  12. SocraticGadfly says:

    One last note, an observation that I’ve made again and again for several years.

    Rethuglicans NEVER worry about Libertarians the way that Dems do about Greens, even though Libertarians nationally, and definitely in Texas, draw more votes. But, even in states that are “purplish,” I’ve never heard Rethugs worry about, or try to block, Libertarians like this.

  13. Manny says:

    So Socfly, I take it that you will again support Trump, by not casting a vote for the Democrat as president?

  14. Jason Hochman says:

    I am not voting, for either of the candidates, but that is not support for Trump.

    Trump is quite impressive. He is able to get beautiful women from little known European nations to put up with him. He was able to get elected against all odds, and by speaking his mind, but, if his statements are to be believed, he’s not a supporter of democracy so much.

    Biden is not running a campaign of ideas. His greatest strength is staying out of sight, and playing up his nice old man persona. Yes, his mind is not so sharp, but he can give a sly smile when he knows he’s confused, and it’s OK. But, if he is only planning to serve one term, if that, it is very disingenuous to have Harris as his VP, knowing that she might be running the show for him, or taking over sooner than four years. If Harris is so great, why didn’t they nominate her for president. It would be more honest. Of course the Democrat party has no great history of success, any more than the Republicans.

    Therefore, I reject the entire hollow ritual. As this blog shows, the average American is a good guy. He goes to work, pays taxes, doesn’t steal, stops for red lights, and helps out family, friends, and neighbors. But ask him about complex things: a global pandemic, credit default swaps, terrorism, climate change, and he reverts to some propaganda talking points, or some slogan from the mass media. “Wear a damn mask.” “Deport them all.” “Make American great again.” “Black lives matter.” and so on.

    The fact is, a demagogue is better positioned to win an election than a serious thinker.

    By not voting, I am not supporting Trump. I’m denying my approval to both parties.

  15. David Fagan says:

    Socratic: you’re right, I don’t see mandatory voting at all, but as long as we’re dreaming… because I see exactly where others posting here are coming from, so frustrated with the whole thing so as not even voting, or, if you don’t vote for candidate A, you most certainly must be a candidate B supporter. But, in the end, just got to let it all go cause one vote in a state that will end up supporting one candidate in the end makes the vote practically worthless. Even though I support being active in government, the whole thing feeds scepticism.

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  17. blank says:

    @Socfly and @Fly–The Fair Representation Act (HR 4000) and The Ranked Choice Voting Act (HR 4464) are sponsored by Democrats in Congress. However, Republicans like David Brooks have come out in favor of it, so one could argue it has bipartisan support. Texas is really far from enacting RCV. My guess is that the path would be something like: State Leg passes a local options bills like Virginia and Utah recently did. A few large municipalities start using it. Voters grow an appreciation for it, and it gets good press. State Leg passes it for state and federal elections. As a Texan, probably the best thing to do is send checks to FairVote. That’s why I do.

    The NPVIC is likely the best show in town for eliminating the EC, because a Constitutional Amendment “Ain’t.Gonna.Happen” The NPVIC is up to 196 EVs, so it just needs 74 more. Currently, there is pending legislation in various states that add up to another 64 EVs. In Texas, Israel Minjarez introduced HB 496 in the 2017 session to join the NPVIC, but I don’t know of anything done on it in the 2019 session.

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