There are myriad reasons why people, both disabled and nondisabled, don’t want to run for office. It’s expensive. It’s intrusive. It’s exhausting. And dealing with party politics can be a pain.

But for those who are willing to stay the course and put up with the rubber chicken dinners, endless cocktail party chitchat, and knowing there are people out there just waiting for you to screw up somehow so it can be tomorrow’s front page news, the rewards can be satisfying.

Lex Frieden, Nick Sposato and Chuck Graham are a testament to those rewards.

Party Politics

Lex Frieden, widely hailed as an architect of the Americans with Disabilities Act, ran headlong into obstacles when he first tried to enter the political fray. Running as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in the late 1970s, he made it through the regional election. Next stop, Texas Democratic Convention. That’s where things quickly went south.

“The chairman got up on stage and invited all candidates to join him,” says Frieden, a quad since 1967. “There was no ramp or lift. I went to the front and said I’d like to be considered but couldn’t get up on stage.”

What happened next stunned Frieden. The state chairman told him, “Don’t trouble yourself. We already have our slate selected. The vote is just a formality.”
Frieden was incensed at a process that he saw as anything but democratic. A group of women from the back of the auditorium joined him up front, yelling together with him, “This is not fair!”