Forget the presidency. On Tuesday evening, most of the Greens gathered at Tycoon Flats were focused on far less glamorous races.
While the party’s candidates for Texas Railroad Commission Place 2 and Texas Supreme Court Place 4 placed last in each race, they did secure ballot access for the Greens in 2014 by winning more than 5% of the vote in the statewide contests — 7.9 and 8.1 percent, respectively.
Contesting 44 races across Texas, the Green Party fielded more candidates this year than ever before. By ensuring a place on the 2014 ballot, the party aims for an even broader slate in the next election.
“If we keep our ballot access across the state, you will see more energetic campaigns,” said Herb Gonzales, Jr., the Green candidate for State House District 124. He speculated that the Greens could recruit 100 or more candidates across the state for the next election.
The Texas Greens enjoyed support this year from their party’s presidential candidate. Massachusetts physician Dr. Jill Stein not only campaigned in Texas but also connected with local causes such as the tar sands blockade in East Texas. Stein participated in and was arrested at the demonstration against the Keystone XL pipeline last week.
“There’s momentum there that will carry us for the next two years,” Gonzales said of Stein’s campaign.
Regardless of such predictions, Gonzales is realistic about party politics. “Getting people to change parties is like getting people to change religions,” he said. Gonzales suggested the focus was on developing a competitive organization. “It’s the building of the party,” he said. “When people see there is more than Democrats and Republicans, they get involved.”
Michael Cary, Green candidate for the 28th congressional district and former Current staff writer is one such person. “I voted for Obama in 2008,” Cary said. “But these two-party people are not getting anything done for this country.”
Stein only won .3 percent of the vote in Texas and appears not to have performed much better nationally.
Locally, Greens garnered votes running against Democrats without Republican challengers and vice versa. Gonzales won 15 percent of the vote against otherwise unchallenged Democrat Jose Menendez. Chuck Robinson won 12 percent of the vote against Mike Villareal, Democratic State Representative for District 123.
Reflecting on the results as they were reported Tuesday night, several Greens suggested their focus will be on smaller races — school boards, perhaps.
Could the Greens break into bifurcated local politics?
“I think we can do it here in Bexar County,” Gonzales said. — Andrew Oxford