Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on political parties in Texas and their function, organization, and power limits.

The authors chose a definition of parties coined by Leon Epstein to match the realities of Texas politics: “Any group, however loosely organized, seeking to elect governmental officeholders under a given label.” To further understand political parties in Texas, it is important to note that their ultimate goal is controlling as many of the legislative, executive, and judicial institutions of government as possible. A party makes appeals to voters in the attempt to build majorities that help that party win elections and affect policy.

The parties nominate candidates to run under the party label, provide support for those candidates in a variety of areas while they are campaigning for office, and mobilize voters to get to the polls and support the party’s candidates. There are three levels of party conventions in the state. The first convention is called a precinct convention, held minutes after the polls close at 7:00 p.m. during the March primaries. At this level, delegates introduce and vote on resolutions and political issues and determine precinct delegates to the county or senatorial district convention, which is held on the third Saturday after the primary election. At this level delegates from the various precincts come together to select delegates to the state convention, vote on resolutions, and tackle party business.