In the 2016 Texas primaries, the following political offices are up for election:
- U.S. President
- All 36 U.S. House of Representatives
- 1 Texas Railroad Commissioner (regulates the energy industry)
- 3 members of the Texas Supreme Court
- 3 members of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
- 8 members of the Texas State Board of Education
- 16 Texas State Senators
- All 150 Texas State Representatives
- Texas Chief Justice of Courts of Appeal
- Various other state and local offices, including district attorneys, sheriffs, county commissioners, justices of the peace, and constables
Each political office has minimum qualifications for a candidate’s eligibility, and these can differ greatly from one position to another. For example, a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives must be at least 25 years old and a U.S. citizen for 7 years. However, a county commissioner needs to only be 18 years old and a U.S. citizen, but not for a certain time period.
Candidates that intend to run either as Republican or Democrat must meet the listed qualifications for that office and submit the necessary applications and filing fees. For federal and statewide offices, the state party chair should receive these materials. For other local offices, the county party chair is instead the recipient. The 2016 filing deadline for both parties was December 14, 2015.
Filing fees differ by party, and a certain number of signatures from registered voters can substitute for the fee. The fee is $5,000 for Republicans and $2,500 for Democrats. Besides federal offices, the fees range from $3,750 for statewide offices to $375 for constables.
While the current system heavily favors the two largest parties, candidates can also choose to run for a minor party, as an independent, or a write-in candidate. Historically, minor party candidates and independents have far less monetary and media resources to effectively compete, and only parties that are qualified to have their political party on the ballot are allowed to have their President/Vice-President listed.
The Green Party and the Libertarian Party are currently the only two minor parties in Texas that have this level of ballot access.