Once every two years, the Republican Party of Texas gets some bad news. The Libertarian Party of Texas releases its list of candidates for the upcoming November election.
It's bad news for a simple reason. Even as the Tea Party has dragged the GOP to the small-l libertarian right, the actual Libertarian party retains a strong presence in Texas politics. There's been more than a few occasions when a Libertarian candidate has been blamed for the Democrats taking a GOP seat, as the conservative fundamentalists split the hard right vote. Case in point: When Valinda Bolton took HD47 from the GOP in 2006, the consensus was that it was the impact of Libertarian Yvonne Schick fractured the far right vote just enough to terminate Republican Bill Welch's chances.
The LPT is touting that it has candidates lined up for every statewide, Congressional, State Senate and race. Party chair Pat Dixon said, "The final numbers are not in yet, as we have many candidates running at the county level and we are compiling those results. Needless to say, voters in Texas will see lots of Libertarians on the ballot."
In Travis County, the Libertarians have managed something that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats bothered to do: Put up candidates in every House and Senate race. In fact, the big two parties aren't even challenging each other next year, instead letting the latest gerrymandering go unchallenged at the ballot box.
Senate District 14: The odds of anyone dislodging Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, seem minimal, but that's not stopping David Baron from filing.
SD25: Normally the Libertarian runs as the far right option, but with the current Republican primary fight between noted homophobe and former San Antonio council member Elisa Chan and Tea Party crazy Donna Campbell (with San Antonio businessman Mike Novak somewhere in the mix), then Brandin P. Lea may have a hard time finding a right from which to run.
House District 46: The only political freshman on the Libertarian side this year, self-described serial entrepreneur Kevin Ludlow has filed against Democratic incumbent and safe bet Dawnna Dukes.
HD 47: Wiped out in 2012 in the precinct 2 Constable race, this year Scott G. McKinlay has his eyes on bigger game: Incumbent Republican Paul Workman.
HD 48: Back in 2010, Democratic incumbent Donna Howard may have been able to thank Libertarian Ben Easton for dragging a few votes away from GOP challenger Dan Neill. After a failed congressional run against Bill Flores in 2010, Easton's back for another House push.
HD 49: Daniel Krawisz is most politically noteworthy so far for saying he was going to run for mayor of Austin in 2012 and then never filing the paperwork. Now he's on a fool's errand of trying to take on the enormously popular Elliot Naishtat.
HD 50: David Dreesen was last spotted on a ballot in 2010, failing to dislodge Precinct 2 Commissioner Margaret Gomez. Now he's the third choice in the ongoing fight between Democrat Celia Israel and Republican Mike VanDeWalle.
HD 51: There's probably a light sigh from incumbent Democrat Eddie Rodriguez as he reads that he faces Arthur DiBianca yet again. The former Libertarian Party treasurer, DiBianca has become a constant failed opponent to Rodriguez, getting pummeled in 2008, 2010 and 2012. Still, he's back again, with filing fee in hand.
Overall, the Libertarian list means more heartburn for GOPers in marginal seats. Not that the Democrats can start laughing too hard. Later today, the left-leaning Green Party will be announcing their candidate list.
Copyright © 2016 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.