While the most politically active of Texans look ahead to the May 27 partisan run-offs and others are planning for November’s general election contest–Battleground Texas is making in-roads where few voters participate: the non-partisan municipal races.
City councils, school boards, water districts and other municipal-level offices in Texas are held without party labels. This year’s elections will be held on May 10, the Saturday before Mother’s Day. Historically, less than 5 percent of voters participate in these elections.
Ross Kecseg, who heads the Dallas/Ft. Worth office for Empower Texans, says that while Battleground Texas has little chance to turn the state blue in November, the group is working to get liberals elected locally.
“Most Texans are unlikely to ever support progressive values,” Kecseg recently wrote. But by not participating in local elections, Texas’ may well end up with officeholders holding very liberal views.
Kecseg cites the example of the Keller Independent School District, where Shane Hardin is seeking the place 5 seat. Two years ago Hardin ran for state representative against Rep. Matt Krause, and lost big.
Hardin’s supporters have included the Tarrant Stonewall Democrats, the Mid-City Democrats, the Texas AFL-CIO, the Transport Workers’ Union, the Brotherhood of Local Engineers and Trainmen, and others.
But it is his “intolerant extremism” that attracted Kecseg’s attention. Hardin called U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz a “bastard” and launched personal attacks against tea party leaders, Southern Baptists and writing that southerners are prone to “inbreeding.”
Now, Hardin wants to serve on the Keller school board.
“Local boards are often used by aspiring politicians to build valuable name ID from which prolific political careers are born,” said Kecseg. “After all, Wendy Davis served on the Fort Worth City Council for nine-years in arguably the most conservative county in Texas.”
Michael Quinn Sullivan is the President of Empower Texans. Follow Michael on Twitter @MQSullivan