Louanne from Ohio asks: I am traveling but have lived in Austin since the late 70’s and am passionate about documentaries. Yours is great. What do you extrapolate from this experience to the near future on the national scene? Also, I am curious if this will be translated and shown in Iraq? This might provide an interesting perspective for them on how democracy works in America.
Paul Stekler: You know, a previous film of our, “Vote for Me: Politics in America,” has been translated and shown around the world, in part from an effort from the State Department. So Iraq? Why not! Otherwise, I think the film is a guide to how swing district races can be won, in this case by a Democrat who bucked the conventional wisdom that these kinds of districts are the sole territory of conservative Republicans. Not true. But if you don’t run — and you don’t run good candidates (who perhaps also get some luck on their side) — you can’t win. Thanks for the question.
Rachel from Washington DC asks: I’m surprised that only Rose advertised on TV. Seems like Green had access to enough money to advertise on TV, and the film implies that his failure to go up on TV was a key reason (if not THE key reason) he lost. Do most targeted Texas legislative races include TV advertising these days, and what can you tell us about the general role of TV in Texas leg races?
Stekler: It was a mystery to many people that Green did not advertise on television. That said, TV (and other media, especially radio) are crucial in closely fought state legislative districts. In a major media market, like the Austin area, that means spending a lot of money. In more rural, smaller town races, the cost is not so great. But that said, there is no hard and fast rule on TV — it’s important where it’s important (i.e. every race has its own rules). Thanks for the question.
Dina from Texas asks: Dear Mr. Stekler, I would like to know why your film completely left out the Green Party candidate in this race, John D. Schmidt. I realize that his candidacy may have seemed marginal to you, but it sure didn’t seem so when the Dems were giving him the hardcore press to drop out of the race. I believe inclusion of this aspect would have provided an interesting subplot to your film. I would think an independent filmmaker such as yourself would not go along with the mainstream media’s policy of ignoring third party candidates. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, Dina Robinson-Schmidt (wife of the invisible candidate).
Stekler: We did not ignore Schmidt, but his candidacy was “important” during the race only because the race was so tight (so even if he got a tiny portion of the vote, a la Nader, he could tip the balance). That said, we did film John and the sequence we cut together was great — but in order to cut the film to a length that worked as a film for an audience, we had to cut things that were not essential to the main narrative of the story we were telling. Schmidt’s candidacy ultimately did not effect the race and his campaign was largely irrelevant, no matter how important a case that one could make for his particular issues. I was a political scientist before I was a filmmaker and I understand the role of third parties in American politics. If I had thought that teling the Green Party story was an integral part of this story, we would have included it. Thanks — and keep being involved for what you believe.