about party conventions
In Texas, parties hold their own conventions in election years. In even-numbered years, Texas Republicans hold precinct conventions, county or senatorial district conventions, a state convention, and in presidential years, a national convention.
The purposes of the conventions are to
1. Choose delegates and alternates to the next higher convention level, when applicable; and
2. Consider resolutions or statements on policy issues to send to the next higher convention and/or for eventual inclusion in the state or national Party platform.
Delegates are persons elected at a convention to represent the body electing them at the next higher convention level, except at the highest convention level in a given year where they simply serve as the representatives of the body that elected them. Alternates are elected to serve in the event that a delegate cannot or does not serve. In order to be elected a delegate or alternate to a Republican convention, the person must be a registered voter in the represented area and have voted in the most recent Republican primary election.
A resolution is a formal statement or expression of an opinion put before or adopted by an assembly. Resolutions are offered by delegates for discussion and may address any topic. Resolutions passed by delegates at a convention are sent to the next convention level for consideration. Resolutions may eventually become part of the Party’s platform.
The precinct convention is the first step in the Party process.
A precinct convention is usually held on the night of the primary election at each polling place after the polls close. If it is not held at the polling place, notice of where the convention will be held must be posted at the polling place. The Precinct Convention must be held before the County Convention.
Anyone voting in the Primary in that precinct may attend and will be considered a delegate to the precinct convention. If you want to attend your precinct convention, make sure the election clerk stamps your voter registration card with the Party name when you vote. If you do not have your voter registration card at the time, ask for a Certificate of Party Affiliation showing that you voted in the Party’s primary. This will make it easier to get into the precinct convention. Delegates to the precinct convention first elect permanent convention officers, usually a convention chairman and secretary. They then elect delegates and alternates to their county or state senatorial district convention. Finally, they consider and vote on any resolutions offered by the delegates.
County/Senatorial District Convention
A county convention is held when the county is completely within one state senatorial district. A senatorial district convention is held when the county is divided between two or more state senatorial districts. The incumbent county chairman (which may be different than the one elected in the primary election) serves as the temporary county convention chairman. The temporary senatorial district chairman is elected by the precinct chairs within that county’s state senatorial district.
The county/senatorial district convention is the 3rd Saturday after the primary election unless there is a conflict with Easter or Passover then the Election Code has a provision that moves it to the fourth Saturday. Delegates to the county or state senatorial district convention elect permanent convention officers, elect delegates and alternates to the state convention, and consider and vote on resolutions.
Starting at this level, committees may be used to do some of the preliminary work for the convention. For example, a nominations committee may be elected to consider those wanting to be elected as delegates to the next convention, then present a slate of delegates and alternates for the convention body to vote on. Also, a resolutions committee may be elected to consider resolutions, then present a resolutions report for the convention body to vote on. Other committees may also be elected.
The state convention is held in June of even-numbered years. Delegates to the state convention meet both as a whole body and by state senatorial districts every convention as well as by congressional districts in presidential years.
Meeting as a whole, delegates to the state convention ratify the Party rules, adopt a Party platform, and elect the State Chairman and State Vice Chairman. In presidential years, they also ratify all delegates and alternates to the national convention as well as the Presidential Electors and elect a National Committeeman and National Committeewoman.
Meeting in caucus by state senatorial district, delegates elect permanent caucus officers, permanent committee members, their State Republican Executive Committee members (“SREC”) a Committeeman and a Committeewoman, and nominate candidates for State Chairman and State Vice Chairman.
Meeting by congressional caucus in Presidential years, state convention delegates elect delegates and alternates to the national convention and elect a member to sit on the National Nominations Committee, which selects at-large delegates to the national convention. In caucus, the delegates also elect Presidential Electors and nominate candidates for National Committeeman and Committeewoman.
Because of the immense of size of the RPT state convention, much work is done in temporary committees in the days leading up to the actual convention. At every state convention, there will be five temporary committees: Credentials, Organization, State Nominations, Platform, and Rules. The State Chairman appoints the committee chairmen. The SREC members appoint committee members. Each committee is comprised of the chairman and one member from each senate district. After the convention starts, senate districts will elect their permanent committee members, who will use the temporary committees’ work as a starting point. All committee meetings are open to state convention delegates and alternates, who are encouraged to attend and testify on topics of particular interest to them.
In presidential election years, a national convention is held in July or August. Delegates to the national convention ratify the National Republican Party rules, adopt a National Republican Party platform, and nominate candidates for President and Vice-President of the United States.