Texas Republicans' Attack on Third Parties: An Effort to Silence Competition

RedState/Jeff Charles

Over the years, many have complained about the fact that Americans have a two-party system with Republicans and Democrats dominating the government. At a time when most are dissatisfied with both parties, some have lamented the lack of options for the candidates they might consider supporting.


In 2021, a Gallup poll revealed that 62 percent of Americans believe “a third party is needed,” which was a significant increase from 57 percent the previous year. A Suffolk University poll conducted in 2022 showed that 60 percent of voters felt Democrats and Republicans were “doing a poor job representing their views and believe a third political party or multiple political parties are necessary in the US.” Only 25 percent of respondents believed the two major parties were turning out an “adequate” performance.

Yet, third parties have still not experienced a rise despite negative attitudes towards Team Red and Team Blue. There are several reasons for this, but one of the main issues is the fact that both parties have constantly conspired to prevent other entities like the Libertarian and Green parties from gaining ballot access.

Texas Republicans in the state legislature have introduced a series of bills to prevent competition for other parties.

Among these bills, SB 1705 is particularly egregious. Proposed by Senator Mayes Middleton and co-sponsored by Senator Charles Schwertner, the bill aims to lower the threshold for political parties to hold primaries. Currently, parties need to achieve at least 20 percent of the vote in a statewide race, but SB 1705 would reduce this to two percent.

So what’s the problem? The issue is a provision hidden in the bill that would impose a significant financial burden on other parties. Under the current system, other parties like the Libertarians and Greens hold conventions to nominate candidates at no cost to taxpayers. However, if this bill passes, these parties would be forced to conduct primaries, estimated to cost an additional $9 million per election per party.


Coupled with the existing $10 million expenses for running primaries and runoffs, the overall election costs would nearly double from $20 million to $40 million. This means that both the parties and the taxpayers will be paying much more to have primary elections. Moreover, these races typically have low turnout, with less than 25 percent of registered voters participating, making the increased expenditure unnecessary.

If third parties are required to hold primaries instead of conventions, it would mean that they would have to pay an exorbitant amount of money for these elections. The state would reimburse the parties for their expenses, which sounds acceptable on its face.

However, when you consider that most third parties might be unable to raise the funding necessary to hold primary elections, the reimbursement point becomes moot. Moreover, even if they did raise enough funds, the taxpayers are the ones who would have to be on the hook for the expenses, whereas if these parties were allowed to continue using the convention model, no tax money would go towards their nomination process.

Carter Fanning, Senate District 26 Representative for the Texas State Libertarian Executive Committee, told RedState that “no political party in the US should be using taxpayer funds to host their private nomination process for candidates for public office” but that “forcing libertarians to do so is even more outrageous; it is basically forcing them to violate the principles they have stood upon for over 50 years.”


The introduction of SB 1705 contradicts claims of fiscal responsibility made by the Texas GOP during election campaigns. Not only is the bill costly, but it is also unnecessary. It is nothing more than a blatant ploy to consolidate the political power of the GOP by neutralizing or eliminating competing parties.

Billy Pierce, Candidate Coordinator for the Texas Libertarian Party and Chair of the Harris County LP,  called out the state’s GOP for deliberately making the process more difficult in order to prevent third parties from challenging them. “This isn’t about choice or fairness,” Pierce said. “This is about making the political process more expensive so that only the wealthy or those backed by special interest groups can afford to be on the general election ballot.”

He added:

Right now, Texas voters get many Libertarian and Green Party candidates on their ballots in local elections, and they pay nothing for it, because these Parties hold Conventions instead of Primaries. These parties pay for their own Conventions, which are conducted in accordance with existing Texas election law. According to the Texas Secretary of State (SOS), the cost of a primary election is about $10 million per primary party, per election. Candidate filing fees contribute 10-15% and the rest comes from the taxpayers.

“Requiring additional political parties to hold taxpayer primaries would increase this cost, with no benefit to Texas Taxpayers,” Pierce concluded.

The efforts of Texas Republicans to impede third parties from accessing the ballot are deeply concerning and show a brazen disregard for the rights of voters to have multiple choices during election season. By erecting barriers and increasing the financial burden on emerging parties, Republicans are essentially stifling competition and limiting the options available to voters. This undermines the process and disregards the voices and opinions of those who do not align with the two major parties.


Texas is not the only state in which Republicans are trying to silence other political parties. The same is happening in New York. For people who claim to value liberty and free speech, the state’s GOP is pretty gung-ho on making it harder for other voices to compete for the support of the people. Perhaps they would rather prevent competition instead of actually serving their constituents as they promised.


Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on RedState Videos