AUSTIN — With much of the electorate now embracing their contempt for big government and oppressive regulation, members of the Texas Libertarian Party believe that they are finally getting a long-overdue measure of respect as they prepare to choose their nominees for governor and other statewide offices.
Though still overshadowed by Republicans and Democrats, Libertarians say the political mood is trending in their direction, exemplified by the rise of the Tea Party movement and seething anger at the status quo in Washington.
The Libertarians are the only nonmajor party in Texas guaranteed a spot on the November ballot by virtue of their performance in the last general election, two years ago, but officials with the Green Party have presented the Texas secretary of state what they say are enough petition signatures to also qualify for the ballot.
In the 2008 election, Libertarian William Bryan Strange got 18 percent of the vote in his race for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, well above the 5 percent needed for the party to automatically get its candidates on the ballot this year.
When Libertarians hold their three-day convention this weekend at the Holiday Inn Austin Mid-town, delegates will celebrate what they believe has been a period of robust growth and fundraising that has drawn new converts, though few analysts believe that Libertarians are anywhere close to parity with the major parties.
Libertarians will field about 200 delegates to their convention. By contrast, as many 15,000 Republicans will fill the Dallas Convention Center this weekend for their state convention. Thousands of Democrats will muster for their state convention this month in Corpus Christi.
Five candidates are seeking the Libertarian Party's gubernatorial nomination, but the dominant contenders appear to be Houston attorney Kathie Glass, 56; Jeff Daiell, 58, a retail supervisor in Houston, and Dallas real estate appraiser Steve Nichols, 44. Austin firefighter Edward "Ed" Tidwell said that he plans to drop out. The fifth candidate, Marion J. "Smitty" Smith of Lubbock, has done little campaigning and says he doesn't expect to get the nomination.
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