Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Pre-primary Endorsements And Coordinated Campaign Activities

County Party Chairs of both parties across Texas are sending messages out to Precinct Chairs and others officially connected with the party organizations that the respective party organizations can not and will endorse candidates or participate in any form of coordinated campaign activities with candidates until after the primary election has been settled. Gerry Birnberg, Harris County Democratic Party Chair, says it about as succinctly as any Texas county party chair in his statement,
I just want to remind everyone that the Harris County Democratic Party does not endorse candidates in contested primaries. If you hear of an endorsement by some Democratic club or some Democratic elected official or group of elected officials or some Democratic organization or some precinct chair, please do not be confused: that endorsement does not constitute the endorsement of the Harris County Democratic Party or of the 2010 Harris County Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign and it is not made on behalf of, or at the behest of, HCDP, nor does it indicate HCDP agreement or approval. The folks at the Harris County Project, which plays a substantial role in electing Democrats countywide in the fall, have asked me to inform Democrats that that group also does not endorse candidates in the primaries, and it has not participated in any process to favor or disfavor or endorse any candidates in the primary election. The role of the Harris County Project (and that of the Harris County Democratic Party) is to win elections in the fall, not to promote contested candidates in the spring.

Organizations and individuals (including precinct chairs and committeepersons) are entirely free to endorse candidates of their choosing (so long as they do not publicly support or endorse a candidate seeking the Republican Party’s nomination for office). In fact, the fact that certain groups or individuals have endorsed particular candidates may be very helpful to some voters in deciding which candidates they wish to support with their votes, dollars, or efforts. But the Harris County Democratic Party does not engage in those activities, and wants to be sure there is no confusion over that fact.

Gerry Birnberg
Chair, Harris County Democratic Party
January 7, 2010
Posted @
There are many reasons why the political party organizations should not, and, in fact, can not, engage in coordinated campaign activities with candidates before primary election day. Foremost, there are several primary races on each party's primary ballot where Republicans face Republicans and Democrats face Democrats on the same ballot position.

County party organizations that have a statutory responsibility to execute an impartial primary election in their respective counties can not take sides in contested primary races. Some might say, "well, no harm and no foul if the party helps candidates in uncontested primary ballot position races." But, again, the party organization can't become involved in pre-primary politics because uncontested primary candidates may want to align themselves with other local and state candidates who are in a contested ballot position race. Then, other uncontested primary candidates may take exception to such alignments by fellow candidates. Such pre-primary situations present the proverbial slippery slope of conflict of interest that must be avoided altogether by state and county political party organizations.

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