Politics & Government

Tired of front-runners? Check out Texas’ ‘other’ presidential hopefuls

The race is on to determine who will be president in 2016.
The race is on to determine who will be president in 2016.

Front-runners not your style?

Tired of hearing about the same presidential candidates — Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders — nearly every day?

If you’re looking for an alternative, here’s some good news for you. There are plenty of other far lesser-known candidates to choose from on the primary ballot.

Democrats have several choices: Willie L. Wilson, Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente and Texans Calvis L. Hawes of Hawkins, Keith Judd of Midland and Star Locke of Port Aransas.

Republicans have Texan Elizabeth Gray of Taylor.

“Most people do not know the ‘other names’ on the ballot, but it is a good part of our democratic spirit to have many others as well,” said Allan Saxe, an assistant political science professor at the University of Texas at Arlington.

If those candidates still aren’t your cup of tea, there will be even more on the presidential ballot come November, representing independents, the Green Party, Libertarians and more.

Political observers say these third-party candidates give voters more of a choice.

“While neither Republican nor Democratic, third parties often have an ideology that appeals to many within those larger tents, especially ‘fringe’ elements who may have come to feel disenfranchised by their main party’s direction,” according to The Politics and Elections Portal. “Such people can easily be compelled to split off, at least for a cycle.

“The potential for that gives elephants and donkeys everywhere nightmares, and its impact can be devastating.”

That’s because they know that anything can happen in November.

Early voting for those casting ballots in the Republican and Democratic primaries runs through 7 p.m. Friday.

‘Other’ options

Many of the half-dozen “other” presidential candidates on the Texas primary ballot who aren’t talked about on the nightly news clearly believe in their quest or they wouldn’t have spent their time and money to get on the ballot.

“They are on the ballot because they want to share their story with the people around them,” said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “They likely won’t get many votes, just friends and family.

“But what a great story: ‘I ran for president of the United States and got 11 votes.’ 

At the same time, reasons propelling these candidates to run for president may be much greater. They may well be devoutly dedicated to the idea of helping the country.

“Some of them have something to say that they believe other people need to hear,” Jillson said. “That could be a reason a person would go through the effort of getting on the ballot.”

It’s all about giving voters more options.

“Ballot access is good for democracy,” Saxe said, “but [it] likely [is] not embraced by major candidates and parties who spend lots of time, effort and money getting names on the ballot and campaigning.”

Looking back

A number of voters may well be looking at third-party candidates, whose role grows after the Democratic and Republican primaries wrap up.

Third-party candidates say their goal is to win elections and provide alternatives to Republicans and Democrats.

But sometimes, they end up playing a much different role, claiming just enough votes so that the winner of a race is potentially different than it would have been had a third-party candidate not been on the ballot.

In 1992, Democrat Bill Clinton won the presidency with 43 percent of the vote to Republican President George H.W. Bush’s 37.45 percent. That year, independent Ross Perot of Texas claimed 18.91 percent, with more than 19.7 million votes, and Libertarian Andre Marrou claimed 0.28 percent, election records show.

And in 2000, Republican George W. Bush of Texas was declared the winner after a lengthy court process. In the election, he took 47.87 percent of the vote to Democrat Al Gore’s 48.38 percent, with fewer than 550,000 votes separating the two. Green Party Ralph Nader pulled 2.7 percent, with more than 2.8 million votes, Reform nominee Pat Buchanan picked up 0.43 percent, and Libertarian Harry Browne drew 0.36 percent, election records show.

Gore won the popular vote but came in second in the contest for electoral votes.

Looking ahead

No one really knows how many presidential candidates might be on the general election ballot in November.

Presidential hopeful Donald Trump has been hinting — despite signing a loyalty pledge agreeing to support the GOP nominee even if it wasn’t himself — that he might consider a third-party bid if he doesn’t win the Republican nomination.

And former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is still considering jumping into the presidential race as an independent.

A slew of other third-party candidates could end up on the ballot as well.

The best known may be Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein. But other names may be listed as well, including Zoltan Istvan of the Transhumanist Party; John McAfee of the Cyber Party; Ken Cross of the Reform Party; Dean Capone of the Socialist Party USA; Scott Copeland of the Constitution Party; and Chris Keniston of the Veterans Party of America, records show.

Johnson and Stein have been in a lawsuit since last year seeking to be included in the presidential debates leading up to the November general election.

“It’s extremely important for people to have alternatives,” said Diane Wood, past chairwoman of the Tarrant County Green Party. “The leading parties that have been in power for so long have grown to become corporate machines. It’s very difficult to get things done because of the control that’s there.

“Most of us are committed to a different political life.”

Some third-party supporters say a big part of their work is to spread the word on unconventional political issues.

“Libertarians offer a viewpoint that is founded in a commitment to individual liberty and fiscal responsibility, elements that are too often missing form traditional conversations,” said Brook Bailey, chairwoman of the Tarrant County Libertarian Party. “For example, in the national conversations about marijuana prohibition, the debate has boiled down to ‘should an individual be allowed to do X?’

“Should a doctor and patient be allowed to treat certain conditions with marijuana? Should patients be allowed to treat with whole plant medical marijuana? Should we allow people to smoke recreationally? If you add a Libertarian voice to that conversation, the questions being asked change.”

Anna M. Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley

Voter Guide

To learn more about candidates on the March 1 ballot, check out the online Star-Telegram Voter Guide.

EARLY VOTING SITES

Early voting for those casting ballots in the March 1 Democratic or Republican primary election runs 7 a.m.-7 p.m. through Friday.

Locations

Tarrant County Elections Center, 2700 Premier St., Fort Worth. This is the main early voting site. Emergency and limited ballots are available there.

All Saints Catholic Church Parish Hall, 200 NW 20th St.

Arlington Subcourthouse, 700 E. Abram St.

Asia Times Square, 2615 W. Pioneer Parkway, Grand Prairie

Bedford Public Library, 2424 Forest Ridge Drive

Benbrook Community Center, 228 San Angelo Ave.

B.J. Clark Annex, Room 4, 603 Southeast Parkway, Azle

Bob Duncan Center, 2800 S. Center St., Arlington

Center for Community Service Junior League of Arlington, 4002 W. Pioneer Parkway, Arlington

Colleyville City Hall, 100 Main St.

Crowley Community Center, 900 E. Glendale St.

Dan Echols Center, 6801 Glenview Drive, North Richland Hills

Diamond Hill/Jarvis Branch Library, 1300 NE 35th St., Fort Worth

Eagle Mountain-Saginaw school district Administration Building 6, Training Room, 1200 Old Decatur Road, Saginaw

Euless Public Library, 201 N. Ector Drive

Elzie Odom Athletic Center, 1601 NE Green Oaks Blvd., Arlington

Forest Hill Civic and Convention Center, 6901 Wichita St., Forest Hill

The REC of Grapevine, 1175 Municipal Way

Griffin Subcourthouse, 3212 Miller Ave., Fort Worth

Haltom City Northeast Center, 3201 Friendly Lane

Handley/Meadowbrook Community Center, 6201 Beaty St., Fort Worth

Hurst Recreation Center, 700 Mary Drive

James Avenue Service Center, 5001 James Ave.

JPS Health Center Viola M. Pitts/Como, Lower Level, Suite 100, 4701 Bryant Irvin Road N.

Keller Town Hall, 1100 Bear Creek Parkway

Kennedale Community Center, 316 W. Third St.

Lake Park Operations Center, 5610 Lake Ridge Parkway, Grand Prairie

Mansfield Subcourthouse, 1100 E. Broad St.

Northeast Courthouse, Bear Creek Community Room, 645 Grapevine Highway, Hurst

Sheriff’s Office North Patrol Division, 6651 Lake Worth Blvd., Lake Worth

Southlake Town Hall, 1400 Main St.

South Service Center, 1100 SW Green Oaks Blvd., Arlington

Southside Community Center, 959 E. Rosedale St., Fort Worth

Southwest Community Center, 6300 Welch Ave.

Southwest Subcourthouse, 6551 Granbury Road, Fort Worth

Summerglen Branch Library, 4205 Basswood Blvd.

Tarrant County College Southeast Campus, EMB — C Portable Building, 2100 Southeast Parkway, Arlington

Tarrant County Plaza Building, 201 Burnett St.

Villages of Woodland Springs Amenity Center, 12209 Timberland Blvd., Fort Worth (Note: This location is closed on Saturday)

White Settlement Public Library, 8215 White Settlement Road

Worth Heights Community Center, 3551 New York Ave., Fort Worth

Temporary sites

Several temporary early voting sites have special days and hours. They are:

▪ 7 a.m.-7 p.m. through Thursday: Tarrant County College Northeast Campus, Student Center NSTU 1506, 828 Harwood Road, Hurst; Northwest Campus, Theater Lobby, 4801 Marine Creek Parkway, Fort Worth; South Campus, 5301 Campus Drive, Fort Worth.

▪ 7 a.m.-7 p.m. through Friday: UT Arlington, Maverick Activities Center, 500 W. Nedderman Drive, Arlington; TCU, Brown-Lupton University Union, 2901 Stadium Drive.

Source: Tarrant County Elections Office

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