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Texas GOP Tightens Grip With New Rules Targeting Moderates

At their recent state convention, Texas Republicans adopted new rules that would punish officials who stray from the far-right wing of the party.

The Texas GOP approved two significant rules changes at the Texas Republican Party Convention. One would close the Republican primary elections to only those identified as Republicans. The other would bar candidates from the primary ballot for two years if the state party had previously censored them.

This sends a clear message to Republicans such as Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan and U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, as well as all Republicans who voted against vouchers or to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Both Phelan and Gonzales were censured, and House Republicans who voted to impeach Paxton or who voted against vouchers were targeted in the primary elections.

Also, closing the primaries aims to prevent non-Republicans from influencing GOP candidate selection. Supporters of Phelan’s primary challenger David Covey argued that the House Speaker managed to win because Democratic voters voted in the GOP primary runoff. 

Under the new rules, voters can only participate in a GOP primary if they voted in the past two years’ GOP primary or submitted a certificate of affiliation before the candidate filing period. Voters under 21 could participate if it was their first primary election.

However, these proposals have faced resistance both inside and outside the party. Critics argue that the GOP may not have the authority to implement these changes without the state Legislature’s approval.

Eric Opiela, a former executive director of the state party, told the Texas Tribune that closing the primary without legislative action could lead to legal challenges. Since party primaries are publicly financed and select candidates for public office, they must comply with state election laws.

Opiela also expressed doubts about the new rule barring censured candidates from the primary ballot. He believes courts would likely side with candidates whose applications meet the legal requirements, despite party censure.

RA Staff
RA Staff
Written by RA News staff.


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