The Harris County Democratic Party Wednesday took district attorney candidate Lloyd Oliver’s name off the ballot, deciding to go forward without a candidate in November’s general election.
The pretext for removing Oliver from the ballot?
[Former HCDP Chairman Gerry] Birnberg said in his complaint that Oliver told the Houston Chronicle in May that Lykos was such a good candidate that she “would have gotten my vote.”
Birnberg is a reasonably well-informed guy, and fairly intelligent. He knows that Pat Lykos is not the Republican candidate for DA. He knows that there are voters who would have voted for Lykos, but won’t vote for Anderson. He knows that a Democratic candidate who would have voted for Lykos might pull some of those votes without giving up the Democratic base (or whatever passes for a Democratic base in Harris County).
If the Democrats wanted to beat Mike Anderson they might run a candidate who was as similar to Anderson as possible. By positioning himself closer to the lame-duck incumbent Republican, Oliver made himself a little more electable. But not, at least in the view of Birnberg and friends, electable enough.
So here’s the play: remove Oliver, not because he praised the candidate whose voters the Democratic Party will need to win, but because the Harris County Democratic Party has given up on electing a Democratic DA, and is afraid that Oliver will drag down the rest of the ticket—Guerrero, Roll, and their ilk.
It might make sense if you assume a) that Oliver can’t beat Anderson; and b) that a contested DA race will attract otherwise apathetic Republican-but-not-straight-ticket voters to the downballot races. The Republican presidential primary in Harris County drew 161,000 votes; the DA primary drew 145,000; the most-attended judicial primary, 121,000, so there might be something to that second assumption.
But “it makes sense” doesn’t justify stymying the democratic process by removing, without any process, the voters’ choice.
This is not an endorsement. I don’t express an opinion on whether Oliver should be DA, or even whether he’s the best candidate for the job. What’s at stake here is not politics, but principle.
The oligarchs of the Harris County Democratic Party acted as though the voters’ opinions mattered. When things didn’t turn out the way they planned, they overruled the voters. Is this a change in policy, or an admission that the primary was a pretense all along? Either way, the corruption revealed this week in the Harris County Democratic Party is Republican-grade and disgusting.
I hope Lloyd sues, and if he sues, I hope he wins. The oligarchs say that they have “an intrinsic right, as a private political association protected by the First Amendment, to choose and select their nominees…[t]he law has been clear for at least a century that the party gets to determine whether it wants to have a nominee and who that nominee ought to be,” even without regard to the will of the voters. That’s cynical, patronizing, and dishonorable.
People have asked me why I’m running for the Court of Criminal Appeals as a Libertarian, rather than a Democrat. Any more questions?