cure for the next election cycle the matching funds that make Pat Buchanan a player as a potential Reform Party candidate. In order for the Green Party to qualify for matching federal funding, the party’s presidential candidate has to attract 5 percent of the national popular vote, a goal Cobb argues is attainable this year. “In 1996, Ralph Nader stood for election,” Cobb said. “This year he is running for election.” In 1996 Nader was on the ballot in twenty-one states, in what was a largely symbolic candidacy. He drew 1 percent of the national vote. This year Nader says he intends to run an aggressive campaign. Interviewed at an Austin fundraiser, Cobb was not entirely pragmatic, going so far as to suggest that the Greens might someday supersede the Democrats. “The party has won seventy-three elections across the country,” Cobb said. In Texas, the Greens have filed for four statewide offices. Doug Sandage is running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Kay Bailey Hutchison, Gary Dugger and Charles Mauch are running for two seats on the Rail road Commission, and Ben Levy is running for a seat on the Texas Supreme Court. But the argument of the moment was the pragmatic one, which has Nader picking up enough votes to get matching funds while the Green voters “force the hand of the Democratic Party” as the Raza Unida Party did to the Texas Democratic Party in the seventies and early eighties. Before the Greens even get that far in Texas, they will have to navigate what Nader described as one of the harshest ballot-access laws in the nation. Getting onto the ballot requires collecting a certain number of signatures \(based on previous voter make the gathering of signatures a challenge. Only the signatures of registered voters who have not voted in this year’s Republican or Democratic Primary will be counted. And there is a seventy-five day period in which to gather the signatures. “The boys in Austin knew exactly what they were doing,” Nader said at the Green’s Austin fundraiser. The law, he argued, is intended to keep third parties off the ballot. Nader, who has been a consumer advocate since the sixties, made a sober argument on behalf of a third party. He noted that 20 percent of the nation’s children live in poverty, and that in Washington, D.C., the rate is 30 percent. Child poverty, he argued, is aggravated by an astounding concentration of wealth at the top. He also pointed to a scarcity of affordable housing \(and a secondary mortgage market that is getting rich of violence that we call pollution.” Nader argued that these crises affecting the nation’s working and poor people are not addressed by the majority parties. “The only difference between George Bush and Al Gore,” Nader said, “is the level of acceleration with which their knees hit the floor when the corporations knock on the door.” The clock is running on ballot access, as 38,780 signatures must be gathered between March 15 \(the day after the Texas downloaded at the Green’s website at www.texgreen.org or www. greens.org/texas/travis. L.D. Observing Moderation Austin M ” oderate Republican” might sound like an oxymoron in a state whose party machinery is owned by the Christian right. But it also describes the winners of this year’s sleeper of a Republican primary. That was the only real trend story in the Republican primary and maybe the only real news. The presidential election was over before it started; even if John McCain had remained in the race there would have been little dramatic suspense at the top of the ticket. As it was, the only scare for Bush was the fleeting fear that Supreme Court Justice Al Gonzales was going into the tank, when early returns showed him losing to Houston lawyer Rod Gorman. Gonzales is Bush’s ethnic-minority appointment to the Supreme Court, and in the end he prevailed. But there was enough doubt early on to leave his slatemate Nathan Hecht worrying aloud in the lobby of the main building at the Dell Jewish Community Campus. Beyond the symbolism of Bush’s election-night party at Dell’s new campus making electoral amends for Bush’s former doctrinal position that “only Christians could get into Heaven” the Republican Party’s minority outreach program seemed way over the top. Bush was introduced by El Paso Mayor Carlos Ramirez, backed on stage by Al Gonzales and Michael Williams \(Bush’s African-American appointee to the Mark McKinnon video clip of the Governor and a Catholic priest. The video provided a sweet moment of visual ecumenicism that might help Catholics forget Bush’s visit to Bob Jones University. And the crowd on stage was so diverse it seemed it might spontaneously break into an a capella version of “We are the World.” If Bush had been in English class the day Shakespeare was discussed at Yale, he might have launched into Hamlet’s advice to the players: “In all observe moderation.” Because on the night of Super Tuesday II, Bush’s visit to B.J.U. seemed to be forgotten, and the Texas Republican Party was awash in moderation. The most extreme Republican candidate to go down was Bob Offutt, the San Antonio dentist who has done much of the thinking for the Christian-right block on the fifteen-member State Board of Education. Offutt had made the mistake of traveling to New Hampshire to criticize the Governor’s education record and endorse Steve Forbes. Then a funny thing happened on the way back from New England. Big money from Bush backers started flowing in the direction of Offutt’s opponent reportedly at the suggestion of Bush campaign strategist Karl Rove. Offutt raised $26,000, while Dan Montgomery rode $70,000 in Bushbucks to a 60-40 romp. Dr. Offutt will now have more time to devote to his pediatric dentistry practice in San Antonio and Montgomery is his all-but-official replacement. No Democrat filed for the seat. Among Montgomery’s big funders was 4 THE TEXAS OBSERVER MARCH 31, 2000 41…….o.,1110,1 ,6441v#.00.011 1.., ,-,Pet ,
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