The Republican Party of Texas will soon be exploring ways to close their primary elections in an effort to stop Democrats from interfering in picking the party’s nominees. 

Texas GOP Chairman Matt Rinaldi announced the creation of a new working group ahead of the party’s convention next month to explore both “legislative and extra-legislative avenues” for the party to close the primary elections, as the legislature has repeatedly failed to do so.

While establishing closed primaries—in which voters may only vote in the primary elections for the party they are affiliated with—has been a legislative priority of the Republican Party of Texas, the state instead operates an open primary system.

Voters of any party can choose which party’s primary they would like to vote in, although they may not vote in both in the same year. In some districts, that means Democrats voting in Republican primary elections in safely red districts to elect more moderate candidates.

Nearly 73 percent of Republican voters approved a ballot proposition in support of closed primaries during the primary election last month. 

New attention was placed on the issue this year after an internal memo from then-presidential hopeful Nikki Haley’s campaign revealed that Democrat support in open primary states like Texas could boost her chances. 

In races like House District 21, where Speaker Dade Phelan is fighting for his seat in a runoff election, 9 percent of voters had a history of previously voting in Democrat primaries. 

“Republican voters have the right to choose the candidates who will represent them in general elections. We look forward to ending Democrat interference in the Republican primary and giving Republican voters a stronger voice in their own party moving forward,” said Rinaldi.

The Closed Primary Working Group will be chaired by former State Republican Executive Committeeman Mark Ramsey and will also consist of current SREC Members Matt Patrick and Jim Pikl, Republican Party of Texas General Counsel Rachel Hooper, and former RNC Committeeman and Texas Home School Coalition President Tim Lambert.

The Texas GOP Convention will take place in San Antonio May 23-25. 

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens