On August 8, 23 Texas Republicans filed a petition of mandamus with the Supreme Court of Texas to remove their Libertarian Party of Texas (LPT) competitors from the November general election ballot.
Some high-profile Republicans on the petition include Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick, U.S. Reps. Pat Fallon (R-TX-4) and Troy E. Nehls (R-TX-22), and candidate for U.S. House District 15 Monica de la Cruz. The four face opposition from Libertarians Shanna Steele, John Simmons, Ross Lynn Leone, Jr., and Joseph Leblanc, respectively.
“In addition to filing an application for nomination by convention,” the petition reads, “Texas law requires a candidate for public office to either pay a filing fee or submit a signature petition in lieu of a filing fee.”
“Despite their knowledge of these requirements, candidates seeking public office as members of the Libertarian Party of Texas in the upcoming 2022 General Election deliberately refused to pay their required filing fees and also failed to file their required signature petitions in lieu of payment of their required filing fees.”
Before filing the petition, the Republicans confirmed with the Texas Secretary of State that the Libertarians had not paid their filing fees. The Libertarians had not done so, prompting the Republicans to petition the Supreme Court “to issue an emergency writ of mandamus” to force the Libertarians “to comply with their legal and ministerial obligation.”
Texas Republicans filed a similar suit against the LPT in August 2020 for failing to meet their certification requirements, which the state Supreme Court rejected for missing the deadline. But this year, the petition was filed before August 26, “the deadline of the 74th day before the November 8th election” to file such a complaint.
Also in August 2020, three Democratic campaigns won restraining orders against three Green Party candidates who failed to pay their filing fees and were subsequently removed from the ballot.
Some members of the two major parties blame third party candidates for the “spoiler effect,” in which a major party loses an election because the vote was split between themselves and an ideologically similar third party. One potential example occurred in the 2020 election for Texas House District 47. Libertarian Party candidate Michael Clark received 3,311 votes, whereas the Republican Justin Berry lost to Democrat Vikki Goodwin by only 1,342.
But, as the petition argues, the parties must adhere to requirements in the Texas election code.
In the Republicans’ suit two years ago, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the code has different rules for parties that choose candidates through conventions, like the Libertarian Party, and those that use primaries, like the Republican and Democratic Parties.
In 2019, House Bill 2504 was filed to require parties that nominate candidates with conventions to pay a filing fee to appear on the ballot. The fee ranges from $300 for a State Board of Education candidate to $3,750 for statewide office.
“Parties holding primary elections are subject to one set of rules, and other parties are subject to other sets of rules,” the court wrote. “These differences may seem to benefit or burden one class of parties or another, depending on the circumstances.”
The 23 Republicans’ petition lists two issues for consideration: whether or not the LPT violated its “ministerial duty” to declare the 23 candidates ineligible, and whether or not the Libertarians are “prohibited from certifying any potential replacement nominees,” claiming there are no Libertarians to “satisfy the eligibility requirements in time” to be placed on the ballot.
Included in the petition is an email to Andy Taylor, who is representing the 23 Republicans, from Jared G. LeBlanc, who is representing the LPT. LeBlanc stated in response to the Republicans’ claims about filing fees, “We fundamentally disagree with your interpretation of the Texas Election Code.”
The LPT asserted that filing fees laws exist “to force 3rd parties to help pay for primary party conventions.”
On August 9, Chair of the LPT Whitney Bilyeu tweeted, “Republicans, fearing Libertarian competition, call for removal of 23 of our candidates from the 2022 ballot.”
“We will resist their totalitarian efforts to obstruct competition and limit voter choice.”
Earlier this year in March, state Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) tweeted, “The 2020 failure to knock Libertarians off the ballot was a dereliction of duty.” The LPT responded to Burrows, stating, “If you weren’t so terrible, we wouldn’t exist. There is nothing some cowards won’t do to keep from facing us in [November].”
“There [sic] majority is fading, and we will continue to steal the votes they feel so entitled to.”
The Texan reached out to the LPT for comment but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
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Rob Laucius is the Assistant Editor of The Texan. A Texas native, he graduated summa cum laude from Hillsdale College in 2022 with a degree in History and has interned for the U.S. House of Representatives and Veterans Administration. In his free time, Rob enjoys reading and writing, watching movies, and long walks around his neighborhood.