The Texas Democratic Party is the state branch of the Democratic party, generally considered to be center-left on the political spectrum. It is one of the two major political parties in Texas, the other being the Republican Party of Texas.
The TDP raises money, organizes events, and campaigns for state Democratic candidates.
After many decades in the majority, Democrats have been in the minority in Texas since 1995 when they lost the governorship. In 2003, they became the minority party in the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate.
State laws dictate the formal organization of the Democratic party in Texas and provide for both temporary and permanent organs. The temporary party organs consist of a series of regularly scheduled (biennial) conventions beginning at the precinct level and limited to persons who voted in the party primary. The chief function of the precinct convention is to choose delegates to the county convention or the senatorial district convention held on the third Saturday after the first primary. When a county has more than one senatorial district because of its large population, a separate senatorial district convention is held for each senate district in the county. The delegates who gather at the county and the senatorial district conventions are likewise chiefly concerned with choosing delegates to the state convention held biennially in June for the purpose of formally choosing the state executive committee, adopting a party platform, and officially certifying the party's candidates to be listed on the general election ballot. In presidential election years the state convention also chooses delegates to the national presidential nominating convention.
The State Democratic Executive Committee includes one man and one woman from each of the thirty-one state senatorial districts, plus a chairman and a vice-chairman, formally chosen by the state convention but informally chosen by a caucus of the delegates from each senatorial district. Occasionally a governor and his advisers will decide that a caucus nominee is simply unacceptable and then will substitute his own choices. By law the state committee is responsible for overseeing the party primary and for canvassing the returns. It also undertakes fund-raising and campaign work for the party. Before Republican Bill Clements' election as governor in 1978, the committee's role was to serve as an adjunct of the governor's office, designed to help the governor as best as it could with political and policy problems. However, after Clements was elected, the party and its machinery developed a new degree of independence from the governor.
The Democratic party has played a central role in the political development of Texas since white Americans first settled the region. The majority of early settlers came from the American South and brought their past political allegiances with them. Texas Democrats evolved over the years from a very loose association into an organized party. This evolution was slow because the lack of a second party in Texas throughout much of the state's history caused Democrats to be less concerned with developing a unified, centralized party organization and more inclined to engage in factional strife. Throughout much of its existence, the Democratic party has been protective of the status quo.