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They want to be relevant

Texas Republicans are looking longingly at the utter depraved insanity excitement of the apparently competitive GOP Presidential primary and hoping that they will still have a voice in picking the winner.

Ricky and Mittens (Source: Daily Kos)

Texas may be “the conservative epicenter of this country,” as Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum proclaimed in Plano last week, but its chance to rock the GOP presidential elections hangs on a still-unsettled primary schedule.

The delay in determining when the primary will be held, plus lingering indecisiveness on the part of the nation’s Republican voters, means Texans could have a say about who wins the opportunity to challenge the incumbent president.

Santorum’s three-state sweep last week in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri was the latest signal that the Republican nomination race could be a monthslong marathon rather than a Mitt Romney cakewalk. With social-conservative Republicans, perhaps, beginning to coalesce around the former Pennsylvania senator and with nominal front-runner Romney having trouble sealing the deal as the man most likely to defeat President Barack Obama, Republicans still may be undecided by the time the nation’s second-largest state gets around to voting.

Originally scheduled for March 6 as part of Super Tuesday, the Texas primary got pushed back to April 3. It is likely to be further delayed while courts in San Antonio and Washington wade through legal challenges to redistricting plans for the state’s congressional and legislative districts. Potential dates are April 17, May 29 and June 26.

State GOP chairman Steve Munisteri is hoping the court will act quickly enough for Texas to hold its primary on April 17. That is important because precinct and district conventions must be held before the parties convene statewide in early June.

Rice political scientist Mark Jones said April 17 is absolutely the last date for Texas to be relevant. By April 17, he pointed out, about 36 states and other jurisdictions with more than 1,100 delegates will have held primaries or caucuses.

I wouldn’t completely rule out the possibility that the GOP nomination could still be undecided as of whenever the Texas primary is. Four years ago, we Dems were lamenting our “late” primary in March because we were convinced it would be wrapped up by then. I admit that it’s a less likely scenario, and that Republicans may be lining up to jump out of windows if they don’t have a nominee by May or June, but given how nuts this thing has been so far, can anyone really rule anything remotely feasible out?

If anything will prod AG Greg Abbott to sweeten his settlement offer to get most if not all of the other plaintiffs on board, it’s this. Let’s be honest, the differences between the Abbott maps and the original interim maps aren’t that great, at least in terms of R versus D numbers – just Lloyd Doggett’s district, by their own adkission. If having an April primary is that important, I’m sure the AG can find it in his hard little heart to give a bit more. What’s two more years of Doggett if you expect to win on the merits anyway, right? And maybe, if Harvey Kronberg’s reading is correct, Abbott may be forced to give more than he has so far wanted to:

Be that at as it may, in its most strongly-worded order to date, the three San Antonio judges said there will be an April primary and instructed all the parties to continue negotiating. If the litigants walk into the courtroom on Tuesday without a deal, they will continue negotiating on Tuesday and Wednesday until there is one.

And to underscore their seriousness, the federal judges said, “All necessary parties are expected to have a person with binding settlement authority either in attendance or available by telephone.”

Link via EoW. That hearing today could be mighty interesting. There are numerous other map proposals floating around – see Texas Redistricting for the details, of course – so who knows what may happen. Maybe our long state nightmare will draw to a temporary close. If not, well, we’ll get a ruling from the DC court sooner or later, and we’ll go from there. At least we Democrats know how our Presidential candidate will be, and we’re pretty happy with it.

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3 Comments

  1. Buhallin says:

    I really hate the idea of out-of-party people meddling in an open primary. The members of a party should be the ones picking their candidates, and crossing over because the state rules are too dumb to prevent it from happening has always felt cheap.

    Still, I might be sorely tempted to drop a vote for Santorum if it actually does still matter…

  2. Greg Wythe says:

    Its not that state rules don’t prohibit “crossing over” … its that there is no party identification in Texas (outside of what primary election you last voted in).

    I’m sure those of us who work on campaigns would love it if we had that. But I think you’d just find out that a lot of people don’t particularly care to be defined by either party.

  3. Buhallin says:

    Probably way too big an issue to really hash out in Kuff’s comment section, Greg, but maybe we can at least agree that it should generally be closed to active members of the other parties?

    And I wouldn’t even be adverse to primaries being limited to registered members of a given party, but I can certainly see the arguments against that. But a political party is a group, which selects and puts forward a specific candidate to represent that group. If you’re not going to commit to being part of the group, is it unreasonable to think your wishes in that group wouldn’t be represented?