Greening It Up
The Texas Green Party holds its convention in San Marcos.
"We are the cutting edge of social justice, peace, and the nonviolent transformation of society," declared Texas Green Party secretary David Cobb at the party's state convention last weekend at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos. Cobb, a Houston lawyer and one of the founders of the state party, is now the party's full-time organizer as well as its nominee for attorney general. The major business of the weekend, attended by about 150 delegates and observers from party chapters across the state, was the nomination of a full slate of statewide Green candidates and adoption of the party platform.
Cobb called the Greens the "electoral arm of the progressive movement," and his optimism was echoed by other candidates as well as delegates from various counties, who delivered reports on local activism. Most of the smaller and western county chapters are frankly just getting off the ground, but Cobb noted that the party is now active in all the major urban areas of the state. Another delegate pointed out that with its statewide and also district slate, the party will be running candidates for representation of 85% of the population of Texas.
Of the statewide offices, only the U.S. Senate nomination was contested, and Roy H. Williams of Dallas defeated James W. Wright of New Caney. Williams, a longtime civil rights activist, who previously ran for Dallas mayor against Democratic Senate candidate Ron Kirk, said his "core issue" was to end the "Punch & Judy" politics of Democrats and Republicans. "I will stand for civil rights, equal access to the vote, and peace and justice," Williams told the convention. Afterward he said he has been a longtime Democratic activist, but finally had enough of "mirror image" major party politics after the 2000 presidential campaign.
The party's gubernatorial nominee, Rahul Mahajan, is a UT doctoral candidate in physics and the author of a just-published book on the war against terrorism, The New Crusade (Monthly Review). Mahajan described the current era as one of "incredible crises" worldwide but argued that today's troubles offer "an opportunity for global resistance" against what he called the U.S. government's war on democracy and civil liberties, here and abroad. "The Green Party speaks in an American language of activism and democracy," Mahajan said, "and represents the best of the American tradition."
Following the Saturday morning candidate discussions, an unexpected guest appeared at the back of the room: Victor Morales, who ran for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. Morales, introduced from the dais to loud applause, said he had come to the convention as an observer and especially to see the candidates. He also told reporters that he is embarking on a new career, at least for the next year: criss-crossing the state as a motivational speaker on political leadership and civic responsibility, with particular emphasis on reaching schoolchildren. Morales said he had found a corporate sponsor to pay him a salary ("He's a Republican businessman, but this project is nonpartisan and I told him I wasn't joining the party"), and that he was taking a leave from teaching high school social studies to take on the new challenge. Still stinging from his primary defeat by Kirk, Morales couldn't resist a few digs at his former Democratic colleagues: "We spent about $20,000, they spent about $3 million, and they lied like dogs. ... They stabbed me in the back."
The adopted party platform is organized under its "Ten Key Values" -- including "grassroots democracy," "social justice," "ecological wisdom" and nonviolence -- and promotes campaign finance reform, public health care programs, affordable housing and tax justice, sustainable energy and economic programs, and workers' rights. (The full platform will be available at www.txgreens.org, and the party's Austin-based newspaper, Common Sense, has just gone statewide.)
Also nominated for statewide offices in the weekend meeting were Nathalie Paravicini (Lt. Gov.), Jane Elioseff (Ag Commissioner), Ruben Reyes (Comptroller), Michael McInerney (Land Commissioner), Charles Mauch (Railroad Commissioner), Brad Rockwell (Texas Supreme Court, Place 2), Rob Owen (Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 1), and Ollie Ruth Jefferson, (CCA Place 2). Overall the party's slate boasts more than 40 candidates from the local to the national level. George Reiter, a University of Houston physicist and the Green candidate for Ken Bentsen's open Houston Congressional seat, said, "I like the party's spirit of activism, and the electoral campaign gets us out talking to people we need to reach."