A Historic First: American Muslim Elected to Texas Democratic Committee
The 2016 Texas Democratic State Convention held in June saw a historic achievement when AJ Durrani was elected as the first Muslim and Asian American to represent Texas as a super delegate at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
While Durrani’s appointment as super delegate will cover the 2016-2020 period, his seat will henceforth be set aside for the Asian-American community so that an Asian-American will always be elected as a Texas super delegate for future presidential elections.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is mostly composed of Democratic State Governors, U.S. Senators, Congresspersons and heads of Democratic State parties. The Texas DNC delegation has designated at-large seats for African Americans, Hispanics, Youth, LGBT, Rural, and Labor. Still, the DNC granted Texas a new at-large seat to reflect the growing voter population and diversity of Texas. Recognizing the lacking representation in the DNC of the Texas Asian American community, Durrani and members of the Asian democratic leadership requested the Texas Democratic Party (TDP) to designate the new seat as the “Asian” seat.
Overwhelmingly winning the recommendation of the TDP Asian caucus at the State Convention and the recommendation of the Nominating Committee of Party Officials, Durrani later gained approval from the full State Convention, Durrani’s appointment made it possible to permanently designate the new TDP at-large seat to Asian Americans. Durrani’s recommendations were backed by prominent political leaders: The only Asian American Democratic State Representatives Hubert Vo and Gene Wu, Texas Congressman Al Green who likely has the largest Asian American constituency, and prominent Asian-American and former City of Houston Council-member Gordon Quan.
Durrani is a long time community and political activist dedicated to encouraging minority participation and securing minority representation in politics. He led efforts to have Asian and Pacific Island Americans recognized as a representative community, making it possible to later grant Asians permanent seats on the TDP’s State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC). He then became the Asian representative on the SDEC until 2014. He is also the elected Committeeman of the Texas SDEC representing Texas’ 17th Senate District. Another major focus of Durrani’s activism is his effort to empower and train the underrepresented Muslim, Arab and South Asian American (MASA) community to participate in the American political spectrum via direct grassroots involvement. His work as Co-Chair of EmergeUSA helps to achieve such efforts.