Perhaps you or someone you admire would like to run for a Texas political office in 2022. It may not be as easy as you think.
The first thing you need to know is that there are four classes of candidates identified in Texas’ elections statutes:
- Class 1: Candidates nominated by primary elections of parties with ballot status.
- Class 2: Candidates nominated by conventions of parties with ballot status.
- Class 3: Candidates nominated by conventions of parties seeking ballot status.
- Class 4: Non-affiliated independent candidates.
Primary elections for Class 1 candidates are required for any political party that received at least 20% of the total gubernatorial vote in 2018. Any party that received at least 2% of the gubernatorial vote has the option of either participating in the 2022 primaries or nominating their candidates by convention. The Republican and Democratic parties currently qualify for primary election status.
Primary elections for Class 1 candidates will be (pending redistricting legislation) Tuesday 01.Mar.2022. For races in which no candidate receives at least 50% of the vote, runoff elections will be Tuesday 24.May.2022.
Political parties that received at least 2% of the vote for any statewide office in the last ten years can also nominate candidates for the general election. Statewide offices include Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, Land Commissioner, Agriculture Commissioner, Railroad Commissioner, and seats on the Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals.
Class 2 candidates are selected by County, District, and State conventions which will be held (pending redistricting) according to the following schedule.
- Precinct conventions: Tuesday 08.Mar.2022
- County conventions: Saturday 12.Mar.2022
- District conventions: Saturday 19.Mar. 2022
- State convention: Saturday 09.Apr.2022
Class 3 candidates are selected by conventions of parties that will be seeking 2022 ballot status. Ballot status is obtained by: a) filing appropriate paperwork with the Texas Secretary of State, and b) garnering a number of precinct convention attendees plus ballot petition signatures in excess of 83,434 (1% of the 2018 gubernatorial vote).
Depending on the office, Class 4 (independent) candidates can appear on the general election ballot by gathering a number of petition signatures either equal to 1% or 5% (maximum 500) of the 2018 gubernatorial vote cast in the applicable territory (1% of total gubernatorial vote for statewide office).
Class 2 and Class 3 candidates may not have voted in primary elections. Class 4 candidates may not have voted in primaries or participated in Class 2 or Class 3 party conventions.
All candidates must file a Declaration of Intent to Run between 13.Nov.2021 and 13.Dec.2021 (pending redistricting). Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 candidates are required to also pay a filing fee or file a nominating petition in lieu of the fee. Class 4 candidates must only file a declaration of intent.
Potential Class 3 and Class 4 candidates should consider the difficulties in gaining ballot access for convention parties and independent candidates.
Convention parties have a 75-day petitioning window that begins after precinct conventions, i.e., 08.Mar.2022 to 23.May.2022 (pending redistricting).
The petitioning window for independent candidates is 02.Mar.2022 to 23.Jun.2022 (113 days) if there are no primary runoffs for the office being sought. If there is a primary runoff, the window is 25.May.2022 to 23.Jun.2022 (29 days). All petition signers must be registered voters who have not participated in the primary elections (“primary screenout”).
The large number of required signatures within short petitioning windows combined with primary screenout will likely require the use of paid petitioners for at least a good portion of a petition drive. Petitioning may cost as much as $10 per signature and could require gathering twice the required number to account for those that turn out to be invalid.
Potential candidates would be advised to consult the Texas Election Code, the Texas Secretary of State, and either the Texas Ethics Commission (state offices) or the Federal Election Commission (federal offices). Information about the four political parties with current ballot status can be found at:
A useful resource for independent candidates is the League of Independent Voters of Texas.
If you’re not in Texas, consult your state’s elections statutes and regulations. You’ll find them to be different.