Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Everything (of course) is bigger in Texas ...

... including the Libertarian Party.

I am reminded of a Cold War era joke: Seeking to impress and intimidate the Americans, the Soviet politburo orders one gross of three-foot-long condoms from a company in Texas. The Texians fill the order, packing the condoms in a crate marked "medium."

There are 173 Lone Star Libertarians running for office this election season.

One way you can tell that the LPT is doing well is by the fund-raising numbers:

The Libertarian Party of Texas (LPT) has reported $81,765.81 in contributions for the first six months of 2008. That is up from $54,204.57 for the first six months of 2007, and $55,454.24 for the first six months of 2006.

Equally important, however, is the urgent requests of Texas Republicans that Libertarians get out of their races, as reported in the Austin-American Statesman:

The Libertarian Party of Texas is not ready to be king, but it expects to be kingmaker — or spoiler, depending upon your point of view — in the state's most competitive legislative races this fall.

The state's perennial third party, hoping to draft behind the momentum of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul's failed presidential run, counts Central Texas as its stronghold in the Lone Star State.

"It used to be nobody looked at us; now they are looking at us," said Pat Dixon, the party's state chairman and a Lago Vista City Council member. "We can swing votes. We're going to be a factor in more races."

Even before Paul's emergence on the national stage, Libertarians were kingmakers at the local levels. In 2004, Libertarians were credited with helping Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, beat Republican incumbent Jack Stick. The Libertarian candidate received 2,390 votes; the margin of victory was only 569 votes in the north Travis County district.

By the Libertarian Party's count, its candidates in 2008 have a "high" probability of being a deciding factor in four state House races and a "medium" possibility in four more.

In some election cycles, a handful of House races might not matter much in the bigger picture. This year, however, the control of the House — and House Speaker Tom Craddick's hold on the leadership — are in play. A few seats could make a difference.

In 2006, Central Texas was the Libertarian Party's highest performing region in statewide races (averaging 5 percent of the vote or better). Party officials credit the region's entrepreneurial and tolerant bent, plus the party's local efforts in fielding candidates for races ranging from the courthouse to the state house....

"Our preference is that Libertarians, by Election Day, will come back home and seek to find common ground with Republicans," said Joe Gimenez, a Travis County GOP spokesman.

LPT Chair Dixon also emphasized a critical point, not just in Texas:

Dixon acknowledges that Libertarians need more candidates who raise money and actively campaign as opposed to being just "paper candidates."

[By the way, if you think this is just hype, pay attention to the note of peevish desperation at The Texian Online, a noted conservative blog:

The LP is threatening to knock out some of the best Republicans in the Lege. -- that should be the last thing a small government liberty minded voter should want.

Note for the Texas GOP: you don't own votes or offices in a republic, you have to earn them every time.]

Here are the most competitive Libertarian candidates in Texas, according to Austin paper:

Lillian Simmons, House District 52.

William Collins, House District 78

Todd Litteken, House District 96

Gene Freeman, House District 106

Alan Duesterhoft, House District 17

Paul Bryan, House District 11

Lenard Nelson, House District 32

Brandon Parsons, House District 107

For a complete list of LPT candidates, go here.

[Note 2: The Lone Texian is especially worried about Simmons, Litteken, Duesterhoft, and Parsons.]

[h/t Last Free Voice for the initial information on this piece]

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