The PJ Tatler

Texas Showdowns Culminate in Today's Primary

Mitt Romney will win today’s long-delayed Texas primary, taking him past the number of delegates he needs to clinch the GOP presidential nomination. Had Texans voted when they were originally slated to, on March 6, the outcome might have been very different, but today’s long-delayed vote will be a formality. Redistricting delayed the primary, as the legislature, state attorney general’s office and a three-judge panel hammered out lines for Texas’ four new congressional seats.

The eyes of most Texans are on the Republican primary for US Senate Senate. The likelihood of a runoff looms, as none of the nine GOP candidates have cracked 50% of the vote an any poll on the race in quite a while. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst leads going into the vote today, but polls have shown him well below 50% against former state solicitor general Ted Cruz, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and former ESPN commentator and running back Craig James. If no candidate captures 50% of the vote, then Texas Republicans will come back on July 31 for a runoff between the top two candidates from today’s vote. Whoever emerges from the primary or runoff is the odds-on favorite to replace Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the US Senate.

Elsewhere around the state, Texas picked up four new congressional seats thanks to the state’s explosive population growth, with the new seats scattered around the state. In perhaps the most creatively drawn of the new districts, Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett faces a three-way fight for the Democratic nomination in District 35. That district straddles I-35 from northern San Antonio all the way up into Travis County.

In District 25, which now stretches from western Travis County up to Johnson County but bypasses Williamson and Bell counties, the Republicans enjoy an embarrassment of riches with former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams, former Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams, and former Highland Village Mayor Dianne Costa leading a 13-candidate race. The latter Williams’ departure from the Railroad Commission created a vacancy for which four Republicans are vying in the primary. Despite its anachronistic name, the Railroad Commission governs energy in Texas, making it the most powerful poorly understood commission in the state’s government.

Along with these high profile races, Texans will select county party chairs and candidates for everything from justice of the peace to Texas’ House and Senate.

Polls are open from 7 am to 7 pm today, and weather isn’t expected to be a factor. For a full list, or at least as full a list as you’ll find, of elections taking place in Texas’ 254 counties and dozens of districts on up to the Senate race, click over to the state’s secretary of state web site. We will have results here at the Tatler as they come in.