The Texas Democratic Party will not use the Texas Two Step system to allocate delegates in 2016 and most likely will never use it again. In 2008 we collected thousands of signatures at the TDP state convention and brought the issue to the floor, but the system was not changed. We tried again in 2010, but we could not convince the TDP to reform their primary process to align it with the rest of the state Democratic parties. Now however, it looks like our work is paying off. The national DNC is compelling the TDP to abandon the TDP’s 20th century primary process. Now that TDP is no longer wasting time clinging to an outdated primary system, we hope to see more changes to the TDP to build a dynamic Party ready and able to win statewide elections in Texas.
From the Houston Chronicle:
Critics of the two-step argued that the caucuses excluded the elderly and disabled, as well as members of the military and those who work at night.
Among them were state Rep. Sylvester Turner, who in 2008 criticized the process for giving some voters a greater say in the nominating process than others.
Supporters, on the other hand, said the two-step helped to boost party involvement, empowering new groups of voters.
After two years of debate, delegates to the 2010 state party convention decided to continue the dance, with nearly 75 percent of attendees voting in favor of the two-step process.
In the years since, the DNC’s rules and bylaws committee continued to grant Texas a waiver permitting the bifurcated nominating process, until last week.
“Texas had a very unique system that was different from any other primary delegate selection process in the county, and this rules and bylaws committee decided that it was time,” said DNC spokeswoman Miryam Lipper.
In response to the waiver denial, state Democratic Party Executive Director Crystal Perkins drew attention to the number of delegates Texas will determine on its new, earlier primary date.
“We’re excited that Texas will be the largest prize on Super Tuesday for our presidential nominee, allocating the most delegates on March 1,” Perkins said in a statement Tuesday.
Turner, who will be on the ballot as a candidate for Houston mayor, hailed the change.
“The old two-step system was simply antiquated. It was not very useful in terms of enhancing people’s participation, and quite frankly, it just made people more frustrated than anything. So, I’m glad it’s gone,” Turner said. “Eliminating the two-step process, I think we honor and we respect one person, one vote.”
The Texas Two-Step that gained notoriety — if not infamy — under the spotlight of a closely contested 2008 Democratic presidential nomination process is dead for 2016.
For years Texas Democrats have split the allocation of their national convention delegates across both a primary election and a caucus/convention process. Roughly two-thirds of the delegates have been awarded to presidential candidates based on the statewide presidential primary results while the remainder were allocated at the state convention (through Texas senate district conventions).
Again, this has been the standard operating procedure for the Texas Democratic Party through much of the post-reform era. The winner of the primary has tended to be the winner of the caucuses as well. The two exceptions to that rule were 1988 when Michael Dukakis won the March 8 primary, but Jesse Jackson won the caucuses, and in 2008, a cycle that saw Hillary Clinton win the Texas primary on March 4, but lose the overall delegate count in the Lone Star state to Barack Obama, who had won the caucuses later in the day.
That latter outcome brought the Two-Step under increased scrutiny. And it was an interesting microcosm of a narrative tightly woven into the fabric of the 2008 nomination: that Obama was winning low turnout caucus votes while Clinton was claiming victories — and a greater number of votes overall — in primaries.1
Despite the 2008 controversy, the Texas Two-Step survived and once again netted the Texas Democratic Party a waiver in 2012.2 That fact, though, brings into focus another portion of what has become standard in the implementation of the state-level rules: The Two-Step is only compliant with Democratic National Committee delegate selection rules with some help. The state party has successfully petitioned the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee for a waiver to hold the “double vote” primary-caucus even though (national) Democratic rules prohibit it.
Basically, the Two-Step has been grandfathered in since the rules were changed. Texas was the lone remaining state to have continually been granted a waiver to allocate delegates through both a primary and a caucus. But that waiver was not granted for 2016. The Rules and Bylaws Committee unanimously rejected the waiver request at its Friday meeting in Washington. The Rules and Bylaws Committee conditionally approved the draft Texas delegate selection plan. But the condition was — at least partially — that it drop the caucuses from the allocation equation.
What that means is that Texas Democrats will now allocate all of their delegates proportionally (as mandated by the national party rules) based on the statewide results in the March 1 presidential primary.
Also from Twitter, we saw this letter:
So, turning to 2016, it looks like the Texas two-step for Democrats is dead. pic.twitter.com/xuFbRwNesJ
— Michael Li (@mcpli) June 28, 2015