Message of Governor O. B. Colquitt to the thirty-second legislature of Texas. Page: 5 of 24
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as to deny the voice of representative government, or deny
the right of the people of separate districts to instruct their immediate
representatives in the Legislature. Throughout the State, during
the last year, this doctrine was asserted and defended by me,
and I am glad of this opportunity to renew my allegiance to these
sacred principles of government.
According to the election laws of the State, "Platform demands
for specific legislation" are not to be considered binding on members
of the Legislature unless they have been previously submitted to a
vote of the people composing such party and receive a majority of
all the votes cast in such party's primary election. I shall not stop
to discuss the constitutionality of such a provision or the methods
whereby such a provision could in any event be enforced. Personally,
I have always regarded party pledges in honor binding upon
me and have acted in good faith and loyalty in obeying them, and
shall continue always so to do as long as such demands do not conflict
with my duty to myself and to my country under the oath of
office which I may be required to take to support the Constitution
and the laws of the State not in conflict therewith. I have never
believed that an amendment to the Constitution comes within the
meaning of "specific legislation," or that any political party, by
reason of the fact that it may be in absolute control of the offices
and Legislature of the State, should arrogate to itself the exclusive
right, through partisan action, to force members of the Legislature
to submit constitutional amendments and ignore the voice of their
districts. The Constitution itself points out the method and procedure
whereby amendments to the Constitution may be proposed
and submitted, and by this method the right of each separate district
electing a member to the Legislature is recognized. But a majority
of the Democratic State Executive Committee, after petitions
were presented as required by law, directed the question of submission
to be submitted to a vote of the people in the Democratic primary.
After a canvass of more or less bitterness it appears that the
people of two-thirds of the representative and senatorial districts
instructed their Representatives and Senators to vote in the Legislature
to submit such an amendment. This instruction was not given
by a "majority of all the votes cast" in the primary election held
throughout the State on July 23d. The vote cast in favor of submission
was 155,224, and those against it 126,212. There was approximately
400,000 votes polled, something like 118,564 voters not
expressing an opinion. According to the law and the contention
of those advocating the party and State unit of instruction, submission
did not carry. But all of our officers are elected by plurality
votes at general elections, as provided by statute, and, according to
the contention of those who believe in the right of each district to
instruct their members to the Legislature, submission did carry, and
it carried also by the usual rule applying in general elections-that
which provides that the man receiving the highest number of votes
for any office shall be declared elected. These instructions having
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Colquitt, O. B. Message of Governor O. B. Colquitt to the thirty-second legislature of Texas., book, 1911; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth5834/m1/5/: accessed August 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .