The pecking order in Texas politics in recent decades is Republicans lead, Democrats try to keep up, and third parties are usually just happy to be included. So far, 2018 appears to be no different, as a slate of Libertarian candidates for statewide office have found publicity and attention more difficult to come by than ballot access. Among them is Mark Tippetts, running for governor but finding it difficult to get his name, image or campaign out there with little money or media access.
Tippetts tells KTRH he just wants to be included in references to the race and the other candidates. "If a particular candidate and a particular party is a serious party, and has done the grassroots work (to make the ballot), they should be at least mentioned with the other two parties," he says. For him, it's about changing the perception of the two-party system. "How fast would we stop eating pizza if we only had two types of pizza to choose from...but yet they want us to believe that we should only have two options at the ballot box," says Tippetts.
One of the best ways for candidates to get recognition is through debates, but rules set by debate organizers requiring a minimum level of polling usually squeeze out all but Republicans and Democrats. "It's a big hurdle to get on the ballot itself, and if you're on the ballot, I believe that you should be in the debates," says Tippetts.
As for trying to get those poll numbers up to qualify for the debates, that effort is also stacked against third-party candidates, according to Tippetts. He says the polls often don't even include third party candidates as an option for voters. "For instance, they'll ask if you were to vote right now, who would win, the Democrat or the Republican---well, the Democrat gets so many points, the Republican gets so many points, and the Libertarian gets zero because the voters were not asked that," says Tippetts.