|Senate leader||José R. Rodríguez|
|House leader||Chris Turner|
|Headquarters||P.O. Box 116|
Austin, Texas 78767
|Student wing||Texas College Democrats|
Third Way
|Political position||Center to center-left|
|National affiliation||Democratic Party|
|Seats in State Upper Houses|
12 / 31
|Seats in State Lower Houses|
66 / 150
Prior to the Annexation of Texas, the Democratic Party had a foothold in the politics of the region. A powerful group of men that called themselves the "Texas Association" served as an early prototype for the Democratic Party of Texas. The Texas Association drew its membership from successful merchants, doctors, and lawyers, often traveling from Tennessee. Many members of the Texas Association were close friends of Andrew Jackson, and most had strong ties to the Democratic Party. Similarly, most of the other settlers in Texas were from states in the south, and American southerners of this era generally held strong allegiances to the Democratic Party.
In 1845, the 29th United States Congress approved the Texas Constitution and President James K. Polk signed the act admitting Texas as a state on December 29. In 1848, the party convention system was adopted, and it quickly became the primary method of selecting candidates for the Texas Democratic Party. In the period prior to the Civil War, national politics influenced the state party's perspective. Texas Democrats began to discard Jacksonian-nationalism in favor of the states' rights agenda of the Deep South. A conflict emerged within the Party between pro-Union Democrats and secessionists. During the war, supporters of the Union disappeared from the political scene or moved north. Those who stayed politically active reluctantly supported the Confederacy. During Reconstruction, the rift between Unionist and Secessionist Democrats remained. For a short period immediately after the war, the Texas Democratic Party was a formidable political force, but they quickly split apart because their positions on freedmen varied greatly; some supported full civil rights, while others opposed anything more than emancipation. As a result, Republicans captured both the governor's office and the Texas Legislature in 1869, but Republican political dominance in the post-Civil War era was short-lived. By 1872, the Texas Democrats had consolidated their party and taken over the Texas legislature. For the remainder of the 19th century and well into the 20th, Democrats dominated Texas politics and Republicans were minor political players.
In the presidential election of 1928, anti-Catholicism in Texas and across the country swung the Lone Star State away from Democratic presidential nominee Al Smith, the first time it ever voted against a Democrat in a presidential election. However, it was not until the middle of the 20th century that the Democrats began to face a growing challenge from the Republican Party in earnest. The 1950s was a decade of factionalism and infighting for the Texas Democratic Party, mainly between liberal and conservative Democrats, and the Republicans managed to carry Texas for native Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956. Cohesion returned to the party in the 1960s, and the Democratic ticket carried Texas in the 1960 presidential election with prominent Texas Senator Lyndon B. Johnson running for Vice President. In 1962, John B. Connally, a moderate Democrat, was elected Governor of Texas. The next year, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on a trip to Dallas created further impetus to bridge the gap between liberal and moderate Texas Democrats; Party unity was solidified with Johnson's ensuing Presidency and the drubbing of Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election. In 1964, Johnson carried his home state with ease, but liberal forces in Texas were in decline. In the 1968 presidential election, Democrat Hubert Humphrey barely managed to win Texas.
In 1976, Jimmy Carter became the last Democratic presidential candidate to carry Texas, and the tide was clearly turning when Democrats lost the gubernatorial election of 1978. Bill Clements was the first Republican governor since Reconstruction. By the 1990s Republicans had gained a strong foothold in the state, and throughout the 21st century they have been largely victorious. Currently, both houses of the Texas Legislature feature Republican majorities. At the federal level, Republicans hold both of the state's Senate seats and 24 out of the possible 36 House of Representatives seats allotted to Texas.
The Texas Democratic Party is the primary organization responsible for increasing the representation of its ideological base in state, district, county, and city government. Its permanent staff provides training and resources for Democratic candidates within the state, particularly on grassroots organization and fundraising. The Party organization monitors political discourse in the state and speaks on behalf of its members. The party employs a full-time Communications Director who is responsible for the organization's communications strategy, which includes speaking with established state and national media. Press releases regarding current issues are often released through the by permanent staff. The party also maintains a website with updates and policy briefs on issues pertinent to its ideological base. Its online presence also includes Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts, each of which has thousands of followers and is used to update followers on the most recent events affecting the party. The Party also oversees several e-mail and text messaging groups that send periodic updates to millions of followers.
A major function of the Texas Democratic Party is to raise funds to maintain the electoral infrastructure within its organization. Funds are used to provide for a permanent staff, publish communication and election material, provide training to candidates, and to pay for legal services.
The organization hosts biennial conventions that take place at precinct, county, and state level. The purpose of the precinct convention is to choose delegates to the county convention, and the delegates who gather at the county conventions are mainly concerned with selecting delegates to the state convention. The purpose of the state convention is to appoint the state executive committee, adopt a party platform, and officially certify the party's candidates to be listed on the general election ballot. The State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) includes one Committeeman and one Committeewoman from each of the 31 districts, plus a chairman and a vice-chairman. The SDEC members are elected by the convention's delegates. In presidential election years, the state convention also chooses delegates to go to the Democratic National Convention. Delegates also elect a state party chair. At the 2012 Texas Democratic Party Convention in Houston, delegates elected Gilberto Hinojosa as the new chair of the state party. Hinojosa is a former school board trustee, district judge, and county judge from Cameron County. Hinojosa replaced retiring chair Boyd Richie, who had been chair since April 22, 2006.
The State Democratic Executive Committee adopted the 2020 Delegate Selection Plan for submission to the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic National Committee. Texas sends the second largest delegation to the Democratic National Convention. Texas’ delegation is 281 persons, 262 delegates and 19 alternates. The delegates selected are in three categories: 149 District-Level delegates selected by attendees at the state convention by senate district caucuses of the supporters of each candidate who wins delegates. A candidate must have won at least 15% of the vote in the senate district to win district delegates. While looking at the statewide votes, the Texas Democratic Party also examines how each candidate performed in each of the 31 state senate districts. The same rule applies that a candidate must have won at least 15% of the vote in the senate district to win district delegates.
Based on the strength of Democrats voting for the presidential nominee in 2016 (Clinton) and the governor nominee in 2018 (Valdez), the party has already assigned the 149 district delegates across all 31 senate districts. The bluest district (SD 14 in Austin) will have 10 national delegates to allocate. The smallest districts (SD 31 and SD 28 in the Panhandle) only have two 49 At-Large Delegates and 30 Pledged Elected and Party Officials (PLEO) are selected by a nominations committee process at the state convention. On election night, the winner is determined. A candidate must get 15% statewide to win At-Large and PLEO delegates. The Party will assign the statewide percentages to the 49 At-Large and then to the 30 PLEO delegates.
There are 34 automatic delegates (formerly called superdelegates). These individuals are unpledged and are selected because of their party positions as either Democratic members of Congress or Democratic National Committee members. Under a new national rule in place for 2020, these individuals automatically attend, but they don’t have a vote in the nominating process unless the convention delegates are unable to select a nominee by majority vote on the first ballot. They vote on all other matters such as the platform and rules and have a nominating vote on any second or subsequent ballot for the presidential nomination.
In accordance with bylaws, the entire delegation is equally balanced by gender, half male and half female. Affirmative action goals are set for historically underrepresented groups: Hispanics, African Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, LGBT Texans, youth (people under 36) and people with disabilities. The most important step in this process is for Democrats to “allocate” the delegates among the presidential candidates. This is done in a presidential primary that will be held on “Super Tuesday” March 3, 2020. Candidates file to be on the ballot between November 9 and December 9, 2019 with the Texas Democratic Party.
In 2003, a group of Democratic state legislators referred to as the Texas Eleven fled to New Mexico and Oklahoma to prevent the passage of dramatic redistricting legislation that would benefit Republicans. U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay called for the lawful arrest of the Texas Eleven. Their absence prevented a quorum during a special 30-day session of the legislature; afterwards, when Senator John Whitmire conceded, the rest followed, because his presence on the Senate floor met quorum.
At the 2010 convention, Texas Democrats voted to keep the controversial Two-Step system. Most states use either a primary or a caucus in order to determine presidential nominees, but Texas uses a combination of both. The antipathy towards George W. Bush and the allure of a contentious race drew almost 3 million Democrats to the primary polls. During the Democratic Presidential caucuses, thousands of new Texas Democrats showed up and overwhelmed the old-guard party officials. Factions of the Texas Democrats complained that this populist outburst wreaked havoc on the caucus process. Almost immediately after the results, Party regulars began calling to change the system or even to abolish the caucus altogether. In the end, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but Barack Obama's well-organized campaign won the caucus.
In 2015, the Democratic National Committee ruled the Texas Democratic Party could no longer use the Texas Two Step in their presidential primary process. The current process that will govern the 2020 election is listed under Activities.
The Texas Democratic Party holds 13 of the state's 36 U.S. House seats, 12 of the state's 31 Texas Senate seats, and 64 of the state's 150 Texas House of Representatives seats.
Both of Texas's U.S. Senate seats have been held by Republicans since 1993. Bob Krueger was the last Democrat to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate. Appointed in January 1993 by then Governor Ann Richards to fill the vacancy left by Lloyd Bentsen after Bentsen’s appointment as the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Krueger lost his bid for a full term to Republican challenger Kay Bailey Hutchison. Lloyd Bentsen was also the last Democrat to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate in 1988 and the last Democrat to represent Texas for a full term in the U.S. Senate from 1983 to 1989.
Texas has not elected any Democratic candidates to statewide office since 1994, when Bob Bullock, Dan Morales, Dan Sharp, and Garry Mauro were re-elected as lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, and land commissioner, respectively. In 1998, Bullock and Morales both opted to retire instead of seeking third terms while Mauro and Sharp unsuccessfully ran for governor and lieutenant governor, losing to Republican challengers George W. Bush and Rick Perry.
The state's changing demographics may result in a change in its overall political alignment, as a majority of Black and Hispanic/Latino voters support the Democratic Party. Mark Yzaguirre questioned forecasts of Democratic dominance by highlighting Governor Rick Perry's courting of 39% of Hispanics in his victory in the 2010 Texas Gubernatorial. Analysts with Gallup suggest that low turnout among Texas Hispanics is all that enables continued Republican dominance. In addition to the descendants of the state's former slave population, the African American population in Texas is also increasing due to the New Great Migration; many of them support the Democratic party.
In 2018, Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke lost his Senate bid to the incumbent Ted Cruz by about 200,000 votes; a significant gain for Democrats in the state. O'Rourke's performance in the 2018 Senate race has shaken the notion of Republican dominance in Texas, with analysts predicting greater gains for the Democrats going into the 2020s.
New polls on immigration, abortion rights and reelecting President Donald Trump in 2020 point to Texas' emerging role as a swing state in the 2020 Election. In March 2019, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi referred to Texas as "ground zero" in the Democratic Party's strategy for winning the presidential election.
the Texas Democratic Party were elected at the 2018 State Convention in Fort Worth, Texas and will serve