Green Party hoping influence grows in Texas
June 22, 2014 | Updated: June 22, 2014 9:06pm
SAN ANTONIO — With U.S. Senate candidate Emily “Spicybrown” Sanchez of Del Rio at the top of its ticket, the Green Party of Texas will field a large slate of statewide candidates and numerous local contenders in November’s general election.
It’s the party’s largest presence ever on Texas ballots, with 49 candidates across the state, party officials said. Candidates hope to affect their races by focusing on environmental concerns such as air and water quality, including South Texas fracking and refinery spills into the San Antonio River. One of the party’s slogans is “separation of corporation and state.”
Repeat candidates offering themselves as alternatives to Democrats and Republicans are hoping to improve their performances this fall, said party activist Paul Pipkin, who’s running for Bexar County judge.
“We’ll see if there’s sufficient dissatisfaction to make that take place,” he said.
Along with the Libertarian Party, the Greens again earned a place on the fall ballot, based on vote totals from previous elections. Candidates were chosen in spring conventions, rather than primaries.
In 2012, while many candidates registered low single-digit numbers, the party fared best in the few statehouse races it entered, usually in which incumbents had no major-party opposition. Even so, the highest percentage achieved in legislative races was less than 12 percent.
According to a Texas Tribune voter survey released last week, no Green Party candidate had more than 3 percent support.
Sanchez, who is challenging Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, previously lived in Laredo, where she was the Green candidate for Webb County tax assessor-collector in 2012, capturing 17 percent of the vote against a Democrat with no GOP opponent.
The nominee for governor is Brandon Parmer of Dallas, who drew less than 1 percent of the vote in 2012 against U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Dallas.
Chandrakantha Courtney of Houston will be on the ballot for lieutenant governor. Born in India, she’s a professional singer, composer, teacher and promoter of Indian culture.
Attorney general candidate Jamar Charles Osborne of Dallas isn’t a practicing lawyer — and doesn’t need to be to hold the office. An advocate of deregulating the legal industry, Osborne formally complained that the state bar exam violates free speech and other rights.
Another outspoken candidate is the Greens’ choice for agriculture commissioner. Food safety campaigner Kenneth Kendrick of Wilson gained recognition as a whistle-blower at a Plainview peanut plant.
Seeking the comptroller’s job is Houstonian Deb Shafto, who ran for governor in 2010 and Texas House in 2012.
Other statewide candidates include Valerie Alessi for land commissioner and Martina Salinas of Fort Worth for railroad commissioner. Additionally, the party has candidates for two seats each on the Texas Supreme Court and Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Green candidates are challenging three veteran congressmen who represent parts of Bexar County — District 21 Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio; District 28 Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo; and District 35 Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin.
Smith faces Antonio Diaz, who earned 0.9 percent of the vote in a 2012 race in District 20. Cuellar again faces Michael D. Cary, who got 1.2 percent in 2012; Doggett is challenged by Kat Swift, who ran for the San Antonio City Council in 2007 and for Precinct 2 county commissioner in 2010, capturing 8.8 percent of the vote against longtime Democratic incumbent Paul Elizondo.
State Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, is the lone local lawmaker to draw a Green foe. With no GOP candidate, he’s opposed by Paul Ingmundson in Texas House District 123, a race made more interesting by Villarreal’s recent decision to run for mayor.
Several of Bexar County’s top office-holders drew Green opposition as well. Pipkin, campaigning for county judge, takes pride in his 1.7 percent showing in 2012, when he ran for tax assessor-collector. Earl Lyons is making a second run at Bexar County clerk, an office he sought in 2010, winning 1.8 percent of the vote. For Commissioners Court, the party’s hopefuls are Chuck Robinson in Precinct 2 and Matthew Lerma in Precinct 4. The lone local judicial candidate is Diana D. Kendall, running for justice of the peace in Precinct 2, Place 3.
Bexar County Green Party
Meets first Sunday of each month
Next meeting: July 6
Green Party candidates
U.S. Senate: Emily “Spicybrown” Sanchez
Governor: Brandon Parmer
Lieutenant governor: Chandrakantha Courtney
Attorney general: Jamar Charles Osborne
Comptroller of public accounts: Deb Shafto
Commissioner of agriculture: Kenneth Kendrick
Commissioner of General Land Office: Valerie Alessi
Railroad commissioner: Martina Salinas
Supreme Court justice, Place 7: Charles E. Waterbury
Supreme Court justice, Place 8: Jim Chisolm
Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 4: Judith Sanders-Castro
Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 9: George Joseph Altgelt
U.S. representative, District 21: Antonio Diaz
U.S. representative, District 28: Michael D. Cary
U.S. representative, District 35: Kat Swift
State representative, District 123: Paul Ingmundson
Bexar County judge: Paul Pipkin
Bexar County commissioner, Precinct 2: Chuck Robinson
Bexar County commissioner, Precinct 4: Matthew Lerma
Bexar County clerk: Earl Lyons
Bexar County justice of the peace, Precinct 2, Place 3: Diana D. Kendall
Source: Green Party