How will late Texas primary affect role in GOP race?

February 29, 2012 5:00:45 PM PST
After months of legal wrangling, Texans may actually get to cast their ballots in a Texas primary. If the latest redistricting maps remain unchallenged, a tentative May 29th date has been set for the state's primary. That's a far cry from next week's Super Tuesday that Texas was slated to vote in. So how will this new date impact our role in the GOP race?

Our primary was supposed to be part of Super Tuesday six days from now. Put Texas among the Super Tuesday states and we would be by far the largest prize with 155 delegates. You would've seen a lot of these candidates on TV.

Now Texas is set for May 29, and by then 42 other states will have voted, with only a handful left. It has some voters questioning how much say they'll actually have.

Four years ago this week, then GOP candidate John McCain stopped in Houston to answer questions at the Armadillo Palace. Today it was just lunchtime there.

In late February 2008, Houston hotel ballrooms were packed with signs and slogans and campaigning. Four years later, those same hotel ballrooms are empty there are no political candidates for president in the state, But it should've been different -- March 6 was supposed to be the Texas primary, but the extended redistricting fight pushed it back for months and it's costing us.

The real financial cost is in all those presidential TV ads. It costs more than $1.5 million a week to advertise on Texas TV. Between the candidates and SuperPACs, it could've been $3 to $6 million this week alone. This year not a dollar has been spent by presidential candidates on Texas TV all due to the calendar.

"It's a little bit of a letdown," said Jared Woodfill, Harris County Republican Chairman.

Politically, the cost is in hundreds of thousands of Texas voters who show up for presidential primaries but may not if it's not as contested.

"I just read the paper and when it says to vote, I go vote," said voter Frieda Pickett.

Political parties get primary voters back out in November for the general election.

"When you have an opportunity for that face-to-face, that interaction, with a candidate, it gets you excited, it gets you fired up, and makes you want to work harder to elect Republicans; not just on the top of the ticket, but all the way down the ballot," Woodfill said.

Waiting until May or June may be the only choice, but it's not good for Texas' clout.

"It's bad for Texas voters. We won't have as much relevance when we finally do vote," said voter Peter Morris.

The Texas delay is due to our redistricting fight. We still don't have approval from federal courts for district boundaries. A new map was released on Tuesday and today several groups filed objections to it.

If the map isn't approved by Saturday, our May 29th primary could move all the way to June 26 -- last in the nation.

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