Democratic panel considers changes to primary-caucus hybrid
By ELISE HU
An advisory panel of Texas Democratic leaders is reviewing the way the Texas party chooses its presidential nominee. Texas is one of a few states with a primary and a caucus. The primary results account for two-thirds of the state’s delegates, the caucus results account for the rest.
The March 4th Democratic primary and caucus saw unprecedented turnout, as the contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton was still in full swing — 2.8 million voters took part in the primary and another nearly one million in the caucus.
“It’s an absolute, all time record,” said Boyd Richie, the Texas Democratic Party chairman.
But precinct convention locations — and workers — were overwhelmed by the record turnout, and complaints about the competing campaigns cheating the paper-based system popped up through the evening.
“It’s very unfortunate that they weren’t prepared this year for the amount of turnout,” said Scott Cobb, Texas delegate.
Cobb is hoping the so-called Texas two-step becomes just one step. He says the caucus should not go into the state’s delegate allocation, but instead be used for organizing resolutions and choosing the actual people who will serve as delegates.
He and other critics of the caucus say that too many people are left out by the caucuses because they are unable to devote the evening hours to go back and wait in line, sign-in, and elect county level delegates.
“We’re here advocating today for those people who didn’t go to the caucus who may have wanted to,” Cobb said.
Richie told the advisory panel that the system needs to be improved.
“This tremendous enthusiasm, tremendous turnout, showed the flaws in the system,” he said.
Richie made suggestions for fixing the current system. He said, for instance, that the state’s 8,000 precincts hold their caucuses on a Saturday rather than the night of the primary.
The 21-member panel is expected to hold several hearings throughout the summer. It will be headed by State Senator Royce West, D-Dallas.
“I think the last time that we looked at the primary caucus system was probably in the mid-eighties. So it’s probably time for us to look at it again to see whether or not it is in fact, working,” said West.