Political Party Organization There are three levels associated with the permanent organization of parties: 1. About 8,500 election precincts are chaired by a person elected in the party primary, thus local stability is seen as permanent. 2. A state party executive committee is composed of 64 members, a state chair, and a vice chair. A county executive party organization includes each precinct chair and the county chair. Dallas County Democratic Party firstname.lastname@example.org 214-821-8331 http://www.dallasdemocrats.org Dallas County Republican Party Phone: 214-369-9555 E-mail: email@example.com http://www.dallasgop.org Temporary party organizations focus on alternating year conventions at three levels: 1. Precinct conventions expressing local concerns 2. County or senatorial district conventions elect delegates to state conventions 3. State conventions, held in June of even- numbered years – next one is 2006, concern state and national politics Parties and Government Texas political parties are not cohesive, are nonhierarchical but layered, policy-oriented coalitions of the state’s government. Political parties have been unable to hold elected officials accountable to the party. This means that elected officials can do pretty much as they please…they do not answer to anyone but the voters. Again, this is shown when Rep. State Sen. John Corona and a few other republican office holders chose to back Dem. John Sharp instead of the party’s pick of David Dewhurst for Lieutenant Governor in 2002. The proactive action by concerned voters forced Corona and the others to back down and throw their support to Dewhurst. Many voters are hostile toward political parties, and the parties make only limited efforts to include large numbers of people in their organizational activities. Coalitions formed by parties with different interest groups develop positions quite different from each other, even within the same political party. Minorities and Political Participation Voter turnout in Texas is notoriously low, with rarely more than one-third of the eligible population going to the polls. Historically, minorities were kept from voting by various means. African- Americans have traditionally voted with the Democratic Party. But some Blacks have joined with the Republicans. Hispanics have also traditionally voted Democrat, especially after JFK’s election. But Bush has made inroads into the Hispanic voting block. Locally, there is the RNHA (Republican National Hispanic Assembly). About 17% of Texas voters registered in 2002 had Hispanic surnames. Voter turnout of Hispanics is lower, at about 12-15%. In 2003, there were 1,965 Hispanic elected officials in Texas, highest of any state. Many of these come from the Valley. About 11% of Texas’s population is African American. Nine to ten percent of the 11% of African Americans of voting age in Texas take part in elections by voting. There were 475 African-American officials in 2000. Historically, the world of Texas politics has been dominated by men. (What state had the first elected woman to a state congress?) In 1981, one woman held a state senate seat, and 11 held house seats, compared to 2003, when the figures became 4 and 31, respectively. The state’s three largest cities—Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio—have had women mayors in the last 20 years. •1894-Mrs. Cort F. Meyer elected State Supertintendent of Public Instruction, one of the first women in the U.S. elected to a state office. •1910-Mrs. Mary G. Bellamy of Laramie first woman elected to Wyoming legislature. •1925-Mrs. Nellie Tayloe Ross (1876-1977), first woman governor in U.S. Elections in Texas Texas uses direct primary elections to nominate major party candidates for public office (low voter turnout). Primaries are administered by the political parties. The primaries are held on the second Tuesday of March in even-numbered years. If no candidate receives a majority, a runoff election is conducted. General elections for state and federal office are held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November in even-numbered years. Candidates nominated by parties in the primaries are on the general election ballot. In 1994, only 34% of the state’s eligible population voted in the gubernatorial race. In 2002, only 29% voted. Voter turnout is higher in Presidential election years – but not that much higher. 2004 56% of registered voters and 46% of persons eligible to vote. There were 16 million eligible, 13 million registered but only 7.41 million came out to vote. City, school board, and single-purpose district elections are held in April in odd- numbered years, with, typical for Texas, very low turnout. Special elections concerning constitutional amendments, local bond issues, or recall of public officials, can be conducted at any time, only requiring adequate public notification (like the recent booze votes in Rowlett, Mesquite & Garland). Extended absentee balloting was introduced in 1988, with anticipation of increased voter registration. This allows for home bound, nursing home residents, & Texans working out of state or out of the country (like troops in Iraq) to be able to participate. But it also opens the door for more fraud to take place. Voter fraud has been rampant in the past. LBJ was well known for these kinds of tactics. The Daley's of Chicago are very famous for it…this is one of the ironies of the 2000 election when Democrats claim Bush stole the election in Florida…one of the Daley’s was helping the Gore team. Campaign Finances Campaign costs in Texas are not really known because there is no single place where all the information is collected. 1. Costs for city council races in major cities are about $50,000 to $100,000. 2. Mayor’s races in major cities range from 1 to nearly 7 million dollars. 3. Candidates for school boards in large districts may spend $10,000 to $15,000. 4. Expenditures in gubernatorial races have reached 100 million dollars. Campaign finances are associated with contributions, all of which have caused many charges of corruption and political favoritism.