Green Party candidate for Supreme Court withdraws

It’s not an election without a bit of ballot drama.

Judge Amy Clark Meachum

Charles Waterbury, the Green Party candidate for Texas Supreme Court chief justice, has dropped out of the race after an opponent questioned his eligibility to run.

Waterbury’s withdrawal notice was submitted to the Texas secretary of state’s office Monday and notarized Friday, the same day his Democratic opponent, Amy Clark Meachum, sought a court order declaring his candidacy invalid.

Meachum’s emergency petition to the Supreme Court, the same body she hopes to join, argued that Waterbury is prohibited from appearing on the ballot as the Green Party nominee because he voted in the March 3 Democratic primary.

State law prohibits candidates for state or county office from representing one political party in the general election if they voted in another party’s primary in the same election cycle.

Laura Palmer, co-chair of the Green Party, criticized the petition, saying party officials were given only one day to respond to allegations that Waterbury was ineligible to run and that Waterbury decided to withdraw on Friday.

“The filing is moot, baseless and harassing,” Palmer said.

But Meachum’s lawyer, Brandi Voss, said Monday that the Supreme Court petition was filed because of tight election deadlines after Green Party officials did not respond by a 2 p.m. Friday deadline. A candidate’s name can be omitted from the ballot up to the 74th day before an election, which is this Friday for the Nov. 3 general election, according to Meachum’s petition.

I’m not sure what the timing of all this is. The Greens (and the Libertarians) nominate by convention, and Waterbury was not listed as a candidate as of April 18, when the party confirmed seven other nominees. He was listed on their July newsletter, so somewhere in there he must have been confirmed. Once he was known to be a candidate, someone had to notice that he had cast a Democratic primary vote, and then whatever correspondence leading up to the SCOTX emergency petition had to happen. It’s plausible this could have all taken place on a compressed timeline.

This is also one of those situations where I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for the candidate who’s been booted off the ballot. Waterbury has run for statewide office before – he was a Green nominee for SCOTX in 2016 and 2014 and probably before that as well but I stopped looking – and so presumably had a passing familiarity with the rules. As with candidates who screw up their ballot applications, it’s not an onerous burden to get it right. All he had to do was not vote in another party’s primary, the same standard to which I as a precinct chair am held. He had one job, and he blew it.

The Libertarian Party has a full slate of candidates, including one for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, if that sort of thing interests you. Losing Waterbury is a blow to the Greens as a whole, because they need to break two percent in a statewide race in order to ensure future ballot access, and with Waterbury out they only have two others running statewide, David Collins for Senate and Katija Gruene for Railroad Commissioner. With all due respect to Collins, that isn’t happening for them in the Senate race – I mean, the Green candidate for Senate in 2014 got all of 1.18%, and that was with a lousy Dem candidate and with the Green being a Latina (as I have noted before, Latinx third party candidates tend to do better than non-Latinx third party candidates). It is doable in the RRC race, as Martina Salinas cleared 2% in 2014 and 3% in 2016, though in that latter race the major party candidates were the unqualified hack Wayne Christian and perennial candidate Grady Yarbrough. It might be tougher this year, and with turnout expected to be a lot higher, the bar is raised further. It’s not that Waterbury was likely to meet this threshhold – he got 1.23% in 2016, and 0.75% in 2014 – but at least he represented another opportunity. So much for that.

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8 Responses to Green Party candidate for Supreme Court withdraws

  1. David Fagan says:

    How is it that this candidate is easily dismissive on a technicality, vs. Defensive opinions made about council district B where people who’ve committed a felony and done their time should be able to skirt the law and allowed to proceed? This guy voted and he’s unable to run? It’s not a felony. Just a felony to party partison politics. If this guy is held to the law, then council district B should be held to the law as well.

  2. Mainstream says:

    Conventional wisdom is that Libertarian candidates draw from Republican margins, and Green candidates from Democrats, although I am unaware of solid studies on the issue. I have always suspected major parties work behind the scenes to support/block those third party candidates who would affect their chance of victory.

  3. David Fagan says:

    In that Avenue of thought, a good question would be how did Amy Clark Meachum know the other candidate voted in the democrat primary? Because I’m sure Amy voted also, and surely she would be aware of her colleague. If Waterbury did not recieve the support expected of the major party, and needed to run for the position, what else should he do? This is a good example of how party politics and there two party system doesn’t serve the public as well as I would like. If the guy wants to run for office, let him run, but of course that’s not what the law says, which is written by……… the 2 major parties.

  4. David, who votes in a given election is a matter of public record. It’s called the voter roster, and you can get it from your local elections administrator or county clerk as needed. Maybe someone tipped off Judge Meachum about Waterbury’s vote, but confirming it would be a simple matter of getting the voter roster and doing a search.

    As for your earlier comment, both the trial court and the appeals court wrote that the law on candidate eligibility was unclear on the matter of felons who had completed their sentences, and as such they saw no grounds to disqualify Cynthia Bailey. In addition, the appeals court wrote that plaintiff Renee Jefferson Smith did not follow the law correctly in challenging Bailey’s ballot application with the city of Houston. So these two situations are actually quite different.

  5. David Fagan says:

    Kuff, on your first point, you’re right about public records and voting, but what’s your comment about a two party system writing such a distinctive law that forbids a person from running for office if they don’t recieve a major party’s support? On the one hand the prospective candidate has to pander to a major party, and if the pandering doesn’t pay off, he’s not able to find another way to run. That limits ideas and limits peoples’ ability to participate in government.

    The second point is that there was another felon that wanted to run for District B, but did not because of unclarity in the law as it regards his felony. I’m not a lawyer, if the law is “unclear” that doesn’t make the process in district B correct, either.

    To kick the guy running for supreme court to the curb so easily, while unquestioningly supporting an “unclear” decision with the same ease can, and should, certainly bring up simple questions such as these.

    If District B clears up whether felons can run for city council, I look forward to seeing Willie D on the ballot.

  6. David, I’m sure that law is a legacy from the old one-party state. I’d support an effort to repeal it – I mean, obviously voters of one party should want their candidates to have not supported the nominations of other parties’ candidates, but that doesn’t mean they should be disqualified from the ballot for doing so. Be that as it may, it is the law now, and it’s a law that Charles Waterbury has managed to follow in the past. He was equally capable of following it this year, but did not.

    Willie D chose not to file in District B because he didn’t want to sign an affidavit saying what his felony status was. That was one part risk aversion, and one part his lawyers interpreting the law differently. Like I said, it is unclear.

    I have advocated all along for this law to be clarified, in particular to clarify that someone who has completed their felony sentence is eligible to run for office. The District B decision really didn’t wrestle with that claim.

  7. David Fagan says:

    Allowing for the completion of a felony sentence to open the avenue of running for office, and entertaining the idea of supporting that idea, does this completion apply to the full spectrum of felonies, which go from identity theft, or resisting arrest, to murder, extortion, and sex crimes? All of these are felonies, and the law would have to address each, if it would be limited, or allow all, which would be unlimited.

    I was reading where Willie D’s had something to do with cell phones, but don’t know.

  8. Pingback: More challenges to Green Party candidates – Off the Kuff

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