Third Parties Struggle for Relevance in Texas


Texas is a solid red state, and Democrats face a tough task in trying to turn it blue.  Still, other parties face a nearly impossible task of turning the state another color...like green.  The Texas Green Party held its statewide convention last weekend in Houston, and the results were not encouraging.  State party co-chair Wesson Gaige says only about 20 people showed up, about half of what the convention drew two years ago.  Worse yet, the Greens are unlikely to even make it on this year's ballot in Texas.  That's because state law requires a party to get at least five percent in a statewide race, or collect nearly 50,000 petition signatures in order to secure ballot access.

No Green Party candidate reached five percent in 2016, and Gaige tells KTRH the party is unlikely to gather the necessary signatures to get on this year's ballot.  "The electoral laws in Texas are designed to keep third parties from ever having a prospect," he says.  "The number that is needed in the law to retain access is way too much...I personally think third parties ought to have an open chance to be on the ballot."

Not that the Green Party would even offer a full slate of candidates if it were to make the ballot.  "We have no nominees for any Congressional district," says Gaige.  "We do have nominees for governor and for attorney general."

The Texas Libertarian Party did make this year's ballot, thanks to one of its candidates for railroad commissioner clearing five percent in 2016.  But when it comes to breaking through to electoral relevance, third parties seem to be a long way off from contention.  Gaige blames what he calls the "duopoly" of the Republican and Democrat parties, both of which he claims are controlled by powerful economic interests.  "The corporate party has control of the election process, and the laws deny other parties to have access," he says.


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