More Trouble for Paper Candidates

Yet another example of why running paper candidates is a stupid waste of time in almost all cases. From the Dallas Morning News...

When it comes to uninspiring court contests, the statewide Court of Criminal Appeals pretty much takes the cake.

Three Republican incumbents, none of whom deserves to be a shoo-in for re-election. One Democrat and two Libertarians, none of whom could be bothered to show up for an interview - or, in the case of the Democrat, complete a questionnaire. At least incumbents have records, for better or worse. Challengers don’t, which makes the lack of responsiveness of these challengers especially troubling.

Our recommendations? Republican incumbents Sharon Keller, Barbara Parker Hervey and Charles Holcomb.

To be honest, we were looking for some new blood in Judge Keller’s race for presiding judge. We’ve believed for a long time that the court needs to adopt a more cautious posture with regard to the death penalty, and it’s only recently that it seems to be inching that way. That’s progress, and we’re pleased to see it, however incremental.

We urge Judge Keller, a 53-year-old Dallas native, to help move the court in this direction. She should listen more to the centrists on the court.

Frankly, Democratic challenger J.R. Molina, a Fort Worth attorney, didn’t give us much of an alternative. In lieu of learning about him from him, we contacted a raft of other folks for information, trusted legal experts whose judgments seem sound, many of them Democrats. None professed to know much about Mr. Molina, 59, though he’s run for various offices several times before, and nobody went strongly to bat for him.

Judge Hervey, 53, of San Antonio, didn’t have a challenger in the primary and drew only a perennial and uninspiring Libertarian candidate this fall, Quanah Parker of Abilene, in the Place 7 contest.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the Place 8 race, which features Judge Holcomb, 72, of Wimberley and Libertarian Dave Howard, 55, of Round Rock. We declined to recommend Judge Holcomb in the March primaries, in part because we view it as unwise for voters to invest in a candidate who will have to resign during his term, as Judge Holcomb will when he hits the mandatory retirement age of 75. Challenger Mr. Howard, however, presented little choice.

Chalk up this set of contests as demonstrating a troubling lack of resolve from Democrats. On many important judicial issues, including the death penalty, the minority party in Texas says it merits a greater role. Fine. It could start earning that role by fielding real challengers for the Court of Criminal Appeals.

11 Responses to “More Trouble for Paper Candidates”

  1. Hammer of Truth » Most Organized Libertarian State? Says:

    [...] Update: Paper candidates end up hurting the party, no joke. [...]

  2. Richard Winger Says:

    No one can run for these posts unless they have been Texas attorneys for a certain number of years (I think 5 years). It’s not easy for the Libertarian Party to find candidates who meet the qualifications to hold the job, but it’s essential that the party run for these posts. The party must poll 5% for one statewide race, and usually it’s the judicial statewide partisan posts that give the best opportunity, because Democrats don’t usually nominate for all these positions. So the Libertarian judicial nominees are performing a huge service, just being willing to be listed. They deserve credit for just being paper candidates. If Texas had a better ballot access law, then the Libertarians could afford the luxury of not running judicial candidates.

  3. Sean Haugh Says:

    The ballot itself is far and away the biggest piece of media in any race. I agree that answering questionnaires and requests for media interviews is pretty darn minimal. Still, I’d rather have a full slate with some volunteer candidates because of the positive impression that makes on the voters. A full slate looks like an organized party that is ready to lead at any level of government. One candidate on the ballot could be a cult of personality or just a lone yahoo. While it’s a small sample size, my post-mortem of these campaigns show that candidates in counties with full slates get about 15% more votes than candidates in counties with three or fewer party candidates.

    I’ve recruited a lot of “paper candidates” in NC. Many remain so, but sometimes they get the bug and turn into very active candidates. My brightest example is Rachel Mills of the “Ladies of Liberty” calendar fame, but other ballot fillers I’ve recruited have gone on to become county chairs and activists for the party.

  4. Kris Overstreet Says:

    A large part of the problem is that state law forbids any campaigning for a judicial position which in any way might touch on any case, actual or potential, that might come before the court in question. That means no judicial candidate can run on any issues other than personalities- “Vote for me, I’m a nice guy.” This tends to discourage issue-oriented candidates from running for judicial races, even if they are qualified (10 years as either attorney or judge, for statewide judicial posts).

  5. Joey Dauben Says:

    Well speaking from a journalist’s perspective, one who tries to inform the public of all of the races and people running, it is a disservice to even be on the ballot if that candidate won’t take the time out to just give his or her opinions.

    It’s free media people!

    And you wonder why Libertarians and Greens and all the other minor parties complain about not being taken seriously. Hell, who would when you have candidates who refuse to answer questionnaires or meet with editorial boards.

    Here’s a solution: come up with a very generic press release template and an issues template. Upon sign-up for all paper/real candidates, the party (whichever party that is) should plug in the name (Al Smith) into the press releases. And then give copies electronically to the candidates (keeping one for themselves of course) so that when the major newspapers call (the Dallas Morning News is the largest in the state) or email, you’ll have what you need already done.

    It’s more about marketing efficiency than anything. Why would I want to vote for a Libertarian who’s “just on the ballot as a paper candidate?”

    I would like to point out that one of the TX LP candidates, Supreme Court candidate Todd Phillippi, is my lawyer and a good friend. He’s also from Ellis County, Texas. So the Texas LP —I believe—will be saved from ballot access petitions the next go-around because of a guy from Ellis County—I’m very proud of this, as you can tell.

  6. Wes Benedict Says:

    Joey Dauben,

    I sent the note below to you at the e-mail address from which you sent a note to me on August 20. Did you get it? Also, I don’t believe we’ve received that donation you promised. Let me know if I can help.
    ————Original Message————Subject: Fwd: Lib head shots -Update
    Date: 8/30/2006, 8:24 PM
    From: Wes Benedict
    To: Joey Dauben


    Can you get a head shot of Todd Pillippi? He has failed to respond to
    repeated requests from the state party.

    Thanks,—Wes Benedict
    Executive Director
    Libertarian Party of Texas
    ————Original Message————Subject: LP members/Ellis County
    Date: 8/20/2006, 3:39 PM
    From: Joey Dauben
    To: [email protected]
    cc: [email protected]

    I know I’ve kinda been hard on the third parties publicly
    (, but shhhh, I’m re-joining the party and if
    the Republicans here keep screwing around, I’m running in 2008 as a
    Libertarian. I’d like to start small, like, say precinct chair and get
    my college campus in Waxahachie to elect me.

    Or, I might run countywide. I’d really do countywide for the name ID and
    to teach the wayward GOP a lesson (and land the Democrats a job).

    Actually, I want to do a Ron Paul and be members of both the LP and GOP.

    I work at a medium-sized print shop now and my boss is arch-conservative
    so he’s willing to help fellow conservative-libertarians get elected
    (we’re forming a PAC as we speak), so if you guys are in the hunt for
    some connections in the propoganda arena, let me know.

    My intent wasn’t to give you a sales pitch, but to tell you of my intent
    election-wise, and get some real conservatives recruited and elected.
    I’m not going to have the GOP do locally what they have done nationally.
    Phil Smart & Todd Phillippi are on the ballot as LPers and are from
    Ellis County. Could have had a 3rd one locally if I didn’t F up the
    paperwork. But anyway, 2008 is going to be a good year. This fall will
    be a barometer to decide where this county wants to go.

    So keep me informed and within a few minutes, the LP should have a few
    bucks from me.

    “If you want to be rich, just find out what everyone is doing and do
    exactly the opposite.” - Rich Dad, Poor Dad

    Home: 972-617-2183
    Cell: 972-639-6059
    Work: 817-640-6471
    AOL IM: joey75154
    Yahoo: joeydauben8

  7. Joey Dauben Says:

    It’s not so much the paper candidates in theory, just the fact that when free media is given, nobody takes it seriously, hence the reason(s) I’m criticizing.

  8. Sharon Killer Says:

    Have you checked out the myspace profile of Judge Sharon keller of Texas Court of Criminal Appeals?

  9. Sharon Killer Says:

    sorry this is the new profile

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