On Tuesday, freshman State Rep. Mike Lang (R–Granbury) filed legislation to close the primary elections in Texas to only registered party members in order to deter unaffiliated individuals from influencing party elections.
Currently any registered voter can vote in any political party primary that they wish, something that Democrats and liberal Republicans have exploited for many years.
“In my 2016 primary election, the Hood County Democrat Party privately circulated an email calling for registered Democrats to vote in the Republican primary in order to assist a liberal candidate that aligned closer to their values,” said Lang. “While the email was eventually published and the conspiracy was laid bare, it is my intent to prevent unfortunate and dishonest meddling from ever occurring again.”
For years, conservatives have pointed to many tight primary elections between conservative challengers and liberal Republican incumbents as opportunities where they could have scored victories if the state’s primaries were closed.
One of the liberal lawmakers, Patricia Harless (R–Spring), blatantly admitted that she relied on Democrats voting for her in the Republican primary in order to stay in office.
“That’s how I’d get elected, a lot of times, is because my constituents that are Democrats vote in the Republican primaries,” said Harless. “Because they know there are not competitive races on the Democratic side.”
Knowing that liberal Republicans like Harless abuse the current system, conservatives have long supported moving to a closed primary system.
At the Republican state convention, delegates overwhelmingly approved platform language calling for “protecting the integrity of the Republican primary election by requiring a closed primary system in Texas” and the issue has been named a legislative priority of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.
UPDATE: State Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R–Irving) has also filed substantively similar legislation that would close political primaries in Texas.