Running for political office in Texas? Here’s what you need to know

Many people who vote on a regular basis are probably only starting to focus right now on who and what will be on the ballot this November. Yet with all the Tea Parties, 9/12 project groups, and other political commentators talking about getting our neighbors elected – to give Washington back to the people of this country – I wonder how many of those involved in such movements are truly aware that if they want good candidates to vote for next year in November, they should have started planning already. In fact, if you want to run for office in 2010, and haven’t gotten started already, it may be too late.
If you are suddenly feeling a sense of despair, you should know that there is still hope. Many organizations, like those mentioned above, as well as a group called Get Out of Our House!, are already working hard to find good candidates to run for office.
If you want to run yourself, you first have to decide if you are going to be part of one of the few officially recognized parties in Texas that will actually hold caucuses in March 2, 2010; namely either the Republicans or the Democrats. If you chose to join up with them, you’ll want to get with your party leaders to see what specific processes and rules that particular party has to become a candidate; and do it quickly.
If you want to run as an independent or a with a party that currently does not have automatic ballot access, you’ll need to be sure that once the primary vote in March comes around that you do not attend. It may seem a bit backwards to not go and vote, but the way Texas does it’s primaries, you are essentially limited to helping only one party select who it’s candidates will be. In other words, if you want to support he Libertarians, the Constitution Party or some other alternative, you need to wait until after the primary elects to start doing the official work they will need you to help them with; however, you should probably still get with them now to help with organizing efforts.
In order for a party, or an independent candidate, to get on a Texas ballot in November of 2010, the party or person has to collection tens of thousands of signatures during a 75-day time window that comes after primary elections are complete. Again, get with the party you are interested in helping to get details on what they need done.
I’ve assisted a few candidates with their campaigns over the years, and it’s hard work. It takes lots of time and money to get the tens or even hundreds of thousands of people you’ll need to recognize your name; let along listen to what you have to say. There’s also a great deal of paper work to be done; especially since the “McCain-Feingold” Campaign Reform bill that was past in 2002. It can be overwhelming to the uninitiated, but it is very much a doing able task if you have the support of friends, family, and lots of your fellow neighbors; or those with deep pockets.

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