As the Republican Party of Texas continues its convention in Houston this week, a proposed rule change could lead the way for closed primaries in Texas.
In addition to electing party leadership and setting the party platform and priorities, part of the business of the Texas GOP Convention is to adopt the rules of internal party operations.
When it comes to how the party runs elections, the rules have been traditionally tied to the Texas Election Code, written by state legislators.
That could soon change, however, if a proposed rule change is adopted by delegates this week. The proposed version of the rules strikes references to the Texas Election Code, essentially divorcing the party’s elections from the whims of the state Legislature.
That could mean closed primaries—restricting the participation in primary elections to only members of the Republican Party—could be on the table, despite state law requiring open primaries.
Conservative activists have long called for closing primaries as a way to stop Democrats from influencing Republican races. It is also one of the potential legislative priorities that will be considered by delegates later this week.
In addition to potentially bringing in closed primaries, the rule would also prevent the state Legislature from implementing radical measures to hinder grassroots influence over the party, such as mandating that the party chair and other leadership positions be subject to election rather than chosen during convention. A proposal to do exactly that was brought up in the final days of the legislative session last year, but it was ultimately unsuccessful.
The proposed temporary rules will have to be finalized by the Permanent Rules Committee before being approved by the nearly 10,000 delegates present this week.