Dream on, Dream Team
Democrats Fail to Convince Texas
Reproducing Greens and the Silver Standard
Although their candidates weren't expecting victories, the Greens and the Libertarians had a good time anyway at their respective election-night bashes, at Double Dave's Pizza and the Copper Tank. Both parties say they emerged from their campaigns with their ranks revved for 2004.
Among the Greens, State Board of Education Dist. 10 candidate Lesley Nicole Ramsey fared best percentage-wise, capturing almost 22% of the vote in her bid to unseat GOP incumbent Cynthia Thornton. A National Organization for Women activist, Ramsey is thinking about a future without several key women state Reps -- particularly Houston's Debra Danburg and Austin's Ann Kitchen -- who could always be counted on to support reproductive rights.
"The situation for women's reproductive rights looks pretty dim," Ramsey said. "We're going to have to fight just to stay where we are, basically." Ramsey says she's also gotten some phone calls about the future of the Green Party, which over two key election cycles still hasn't gained an automatic place on the ballot. But at an intimate, pre-Double Dave's champagne-and-tapas party for campaign workers and supporters at Malaga, several party members expressed hope that support for third parties will increase.
"I think third parties are more accepted in the political process now than before," opined Supreme Court Place 2 candidate (and Save Our Springs Alliance deputy director) Brad Rockwell. When he ran a third-party campaign against retired U.S. Rep. J.J. Pickle in 1982, Rockwell says, N.O.W. and other progressive groups wouldn't allow their local chapters to endorse him. The fact that Democrats U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett and state Senator Gonzalo Barrientos supported Ramsey's campaign "hopefully indicates a wave of the future: that the Green Party won't be perceived as some sort of threat to Democrats, but will just be viewed as one more political party."
At the Copper Tank, a bevy of Libertarian candidates gathered to watch the returns and discuss plans for 2004. Michael Badnarik, who garnered 2.2% of the vote in his race against Democrat Ann Kitchen and Republican winner Todd Baxter, expressed satisfaction at the number of newspaper notices the Libs received this year: "Two years ago, we got maybe two or three." Though the free-market-loving Libs are often lumped with Republicans, many of them were dismayed by the GOP's sweeping statewide (and national) victory. Many candidates on hand complained that the Bush administration's new policies in fighting terrorism abroad, as well as its losing "war on drugs," continue to ride roughshod on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
"The problem is that government is trying to do too much," said Badnarik. "The Republicans want you to live by their morals; the Democrats will let you do what you want, but they want your money." Speaking of money, one of the unique aspects of the Libertarians' gathering was that some of them tried to pay for their drinks with $10 coins made of pure silver. "It's the Liberty currency," pointed out South Austinite and state comptroller candidate Bowie Ibarra, who explained that the hefty coins are inflation-proof.