Five Facts on Party Censures
This past weekend, U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) was formally censured by the Texas Republican Party. Party censure can have a significant impact on a politician’s future prospects for reelection, and it’s not a mechanism deployed lightly. However, in recent years, censuring has become much more common.
Here are Five Facts about Gonzales’ censure and the rise of party censures nationwide.
1. Texas Republicans cited Gonzales’ policy positions as reason for censure.
In the 57-5 vote to censure Gonzales, Texas GOP officials listed a number of areas where Gonzales had broken with party ranks, including his support for bipartisan bills to improve gun safety and protect same-sex and interracial marriage, his opposition to a conservative border security bill, and his vote against the Republican House rules package.
2. Texas GOP censure rules allow the party to withhold financial support for censured members.
Under Gonzales’ censure, the Texas GOP will not provide any financial support for his reelection campaign through the primary election, and in fact will actively discourage Gonzales from running to keep his seat in 2024.
3. 2021 saw a sharp increase in the number of party censures.
Party censures sharply rose in 2021, particularly as state Republican parties targeted members of Congress seen as opposing Donald Trump. However, that year the Arizona Republican Party also censured Gov. Doug Ducey for simply supporting COVID social distancing measures.
4. Both parties have censured politicians in recent years.
While state Republican parties have been responsible for the majority of censures in recent years, Democratic parties have also begun issuing more censures. Notably the Arizona Democratic Party censured U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) for her support of the filibuster, a move that precipitated Sinema leaving the party and becoming an independent.
5. Censures can be issued at any level of government.
High-profile censures of members of Congress get most of the headlines, but parties are demanding greater loyalty from members at all levels of government. The Ohio Republican Party censured 22 state lawmakers who backed a moderate Democrat for speaker of the House over a more extreme Republican. And in Pennsylvania, the Erie County Democratic Party censured a county official for supporting Republican proposals.