Sunday, January 05, 2014

Chron picks up Don Cook's long-distance bid for Congress

Carol Christian didn't link to me, but that's cool.

A familiar face among Houston's progressive political activists is running for U.S. Congress to help create buzz for the Green Party.

Nothing too unusual there, except Don Cook is running in Congressional District 13 in the north Texas panhandle, some of which is 600 miles from his home.

Thanks to a little known provision of the U.S. Constitution, congressional representatives don't have to live near their constituents - as long as they're in the same state. Even if the state is huge.

This falls under the "any publicity is good publicity" header.

He acknowledges that he's running not so much to win the office as to raise the profile of the Green Party.

"I really feel that the Green Party sees problems that other people aren't talking about, and solutions to problems that people do see (that) are being ignored," he said.

For example, he said, Congress recently voted to end subsidies for wind power but has kept them in place for oil companies.

"There are many areas to explore in the interaction of government and people," Cook said.  Another issue, he said, is how well residents of densely populated districts are represented.

"We should remove districts altogether," he said. "They're all gerrymandered, anyway."  It would be fairer, he said, to elect all 37 of Texas' congressional representatives statewide.

"It eliminates gerrymandering and promotes proportional representation," he said.

Cook has indicated to me in an e-mail this morning that he's pretty certain 37 is the wrong number for Texas Congressional seats... but he's not saying Carol misquoted him.

In seeking a district with a lot of land and a low population, Cook said he considered some in west Texas. But when he looked up District 13 in Wikipedia, he read that it's the most Republican district in the nation.

"That just warmed my heart," he said.

Cook's candidacy, which he announced last month, won't be official until the Green Party nominates him at its statewide convention in April, Cook said.

"I have to convince the delegates that it's better to have me run than not have the party represented," he said.

It's doubtful to become a campaign issue in 2014, but go back and read what Gadfly and Greg said in the comments here.  If Texas held a jungle primary for all 36 members of the House of Representatives that looked sort of like a municipal election for an at-large seat on city council... would that be a good thing or a bad thing?

Three states already do it.  It's debatable whether it strengthens or weakens one of the two dominant political parties, or whether it translates into more moderates of either stripe going to Washington.

A lot of redistricting quarrels would vanish (good).  It may result in even more Texas Republicans in Congress (bad).  With perhaps more than a hundred names appearing on every Texan's ballot, and with instructions to vote for their favorite three dozen... is that too complicated for the average (read: mostly non-) voter?

What other advantages or disadvantages would be involved?  I still like the idea of a geographically based representative, but as with so many things about our current system, it's been corrupted by avarice and ignorance.  But I'm keeping an open mind.  Somebody want to make a case for or against in the comments?

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