April 12, 2014

Texas Greens discuss asking guv candidate to not campaign — DON'T!

Kat Swift leads voting at the 2014 Texas Green Party convention.

When I lived back in Dallas (and if I'm going to live in Texas a lot longer, please, somebody help me get back to the New York City of Texas), I went to a few Dallas-area Green Party meetings, around 2007-2008. I also saw and heard Green presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney speak in Fort Worth in 2008, and talked to some Fort Worth Greens while there.

So, even though I'm not an active Green Party member, I'm not unfamiliar with the party overall. And, earlier today, I went to Austin to catch at least parts of the Texas Green Party's 2014 convention.

Unfortunately, gubernatorial candidate Brandon Parmer and Senatorial candidate Emily “Spicybrown” Sanchez were both not at the convention. Now, Sanchez is in Del Rio, but Parmer is in the Metroplex.

At the same time, both are real people with real jobs of some sort, I assume. Both of them may not work Monday-Friday jobs.

But Parmer’s absence was of import for one other reason.

Should Parmer cede, or run non-actively, in the gubernatorial race, in the idea that this would help Democratic candidate Wendy Davis against Greg Abbott? Blogging friend Perry said that, before I got to the convention, there was a fair degree of discussion about that. Most people present opposed that. Proponents mentioned Nader 2000 and his ticket splitting.

First, let’s not forget that a butterfly ballot poorly designed by a Democratic election official in Florida, Theresa LePore, was the primary reason Al Gore lost (apparently) the popular vote in Florida. Let’s also not forget that Gore’s slow and half-assed legal response, plus a lot of other Democratic bigwigs not being totally sold on Al Gore, are part of why he ultimately lost Bush v. Gore. Finally, let’s not forget that Al Gore didn’t become “Al Gore” until he stopped being an elected political official.

Perry's got more on this issue. Per him, the one actual reason to fault Nader is that he originally said he wouldn't campaign in swing states.

Anyway, this is like begging for table scraps, first. And, it’s expecting that Democrats will offer scraps and that they’ll be scraps worth seeking. More on that below, as it ties in with …

Second, what do Greens have to offer besides “not actively campaigning,” and, given previous Green gubernatorial results (and not state Supreme Court races where no Democrat was running) of how much value is that. Uhh, probably not a lot.

It’s unfortunate that the US electoral system in general is stacked in favor of a two-party breakout. It’s more unfortunate that, in terms of ballot access, Texas is stacked against third-party ballot access. But, just as I generally have opposed Greens running a “safe states” presidential campaign, to the point that I blogged that in 2004, 2008 or 2012, I would have voted Green for president if I lived in Ohio, Pennsylvania or Florida, so I believe the same here.

That said, what would the Democrats pay in return for Parmer suspending, or semi-suspending, his campaign? Since Texas, like more and more states in their anti-third party animus, doesn’t allow “fusion” candidates or slates, Democrats couldn’t endorse in any way a Green candidate for the Texas Supreme Court. Other than Democrats directing some fundraisers to help the Greens (and why?) there’s nothing else I can think of that the Texas Democratic Party would do.

As noted above, outside those judicial races where Democrats don’t have candidates, and where Greens have delayed announcing their candidates as part of a filing slate until the Democratic-Republican primary filing deadline, Green candidates have yet to draw well. And, Democrats know that. The Wendy Davis campaign surely values such an offer by Parmer, were it to be made, at about 10 cents on the dollar compared to how Texas Greens might value it, or at least some of them.

Third, this is trading on an assumption by those Greens, one shared by many Texas Democrats, that the showdown between Davis and Greg Abbott is likely to be very close.

Although the Davis campaign, after a thorough shakedown, is starting to get its sea legs, and Abbott is suddenly playing a media disappearing act, I don’t really share those beliefs.

Readers can see my poll, at right, as to whether Davis will outperform Bill White vs. Rick Perry from 2010. Pluses for Davis? She’s more charismatic than White and has run previous non-state campaigns (her state senate seat vs. city of Houston for mayor) against tougher and more uphill opposition. Also a possible plus, though somewhat mishandled so far? Her personal story.

Minuses? We were at Rick Perry fatigue in 2010. Note how unpopular he was in 2006. Abbott, other than general conservative Republican baggage, doesn’t yet have much of “Rick Perry association” baggage. I also think he’s better campaigner than Perry, when he’s on his stride. When he’s not? Well, Rick Perry never would have publicly appeared with Ted Nugent, so this may be a wash. I certainly think he’s a more aggressive elbow-thrower as a candidate than Perry. I think that’s overall a plus, but could backfire.

So, if Abbott-Davis is closer than the 55-42 split for Perry-White, I don’t think it’s going to be that much closer. Let’s say, in what might be a bit generous on my part, that it’s 52-45. That’s still 7 percentage points and far away from a Brandon Parmer semi-withdrawal making any difference. The newest polling numbers exactly reflect this.

So, as a bargaining tool? It’s non-existent.

As a matter of party-building? It’s totally wrong. Do it once, and why shouldn’t Democrats expect you to do it again. Ditto on people who aren’t that involved with politics and to whom you might want to reach out in the future.

As a matter of political ethics? Idealism sometimes has to be tempered with a certain bit of realism, but that’s not at stake here. And, speaking of political ethics, Davis herself offers reasons to be wary of such a deal.

So, don’t do it, Greens. Accept that you have a ways, a long ways, to go, not come, baby, on your contested statewide races. Recognize that a cheap, quickie cohabitation with the Democrats on the gubernatorial race isn’t the way to keep going further. That’s the bottom line.

Well, there is one thing Democrats could offer. (And it would help if Libertarians would similarly prod Republicans.) And that is to change Texas law to allow fusion candidates. (Actually, I have thought of a second offer that would be "worth it": Democratic support for public campaign financing of Texas elections.)

Short of a Democratic (and, really, also, a Republican-to-Libertarian) pledge to support such a change, there’s really nothing the Democrats can offer the Greens.

And, this isn’t just about Texas Greens. It’s about Green parties in general. Don’t bargain unless you can get something concrete, and valuable, in return.

1 comment:

PDiddie said...

You're way ahead of me. So far ahead that I probably don't even have to post about it.