There is no denying that Texas is, by and large, a red state. And the left’s attempts to “turn Texas purple” or into a battleground state have fallen hard and flat.
Because Texas runs red in presidential and midterm general elections, the fight for conservative principles occurs every other March in the Republican primary elections.
Democrats and their liberal Republican friends are keenly aware that Texas’ conservative voting base will keep Texas solidly red in a November election, so they then turn their attention to the, often contentious, open Texas primary.
Surprisingly, Pro-Life conservatives must fight tooth and nail in the Republican primary to ensure the values of Texas Republicans are actually reflected in the party’s eventual nominee.
One reason is due to Texas being an “open primary” state; in Texas, a voter can cast her ballot in the Democrat primary one cycle, and then in the next, vote in the Republican primary. In a closed primary system, one may only vote in the party primary of which he or she has registered.
The left-of-center establishment crowd despises the conservative base that keeps Texas red. As an alternative, they offer their version of a Republican candidate, and then work within a district to make sure Democrats (who do not have a viable candidate) turn out to the voting booth to elect the liberal Republican.
Two extremely important races in the 2016 Republican primary saw a large crossover of Democrats to select the establishment candidate. Incumbent Byron Cook (R-Corsicana), the House chairman consistently responsible for killing life-saving legislation through his committee, saw a 28% crossover rate from Democrat voters in the entire district. Byron Cook ultimately won re-election with only a handful of votes over Texas Right to Life-endorsed businessman Thomas McNutt. Chairman Cook is already playing political games with Pro-Life legislation during the 85th Session of the Texas Legislature.
Propelled into a runoff election after failing to win a majority in the primary, Texas House District 18 showed a 26% crossover rate in Liberty County of Democrats who turned out solely to vote in the runoff election. This particular race saw Ernest Bailes attaining office over Texas Right to Life-endorsed attorney Keith Strahan.
A number of bills have been introduced in the Texas Legislature that would close Texas primaries, ensuring that the party with which a voter is registered is the primary in which his vote would be cast: House Bills 1061 by Rep. Rinaldi (R-Irving), 1072 by Rep. Lang (R-Granbury), 1347 by Rep. Fallon (R-Frisco), and 1353 by Rep. Shaheen (R-Plano).
If the trend continues, how much will the quality of Republican office-holders be diluted? Closer analysis across the entire state is needed to determine whether closing the Texas primary is a necessary tool in ensuring election integrity, but such policy proposals definitely warrant attention.