Texas Primaries Prove Pivotal
By State Senator Craig Estes
With 34 electoral votes, Texas is the second biggest prize for Presidential campaigners come November. Historically, however, Texas has had little sway in the selection of our November contenders. Well, this year that all changes in a big way.
Barring any dramatic developments over the next few weeks, both the Republican and Democratic nomination for President will remain unsettled when Texans begin early voting on February 19 with Primary Election Day on March 4.
On the Republican side, Senator John McCain has a clear lead in delegates but continues to work toward the 1,191 delegates needed to lock the nomination. However, former Governor Mike Huckabee is showing no signs that he intends to end his campaign before either candidate has secured the nomination through the Primaries. While it is not mathematically possible for Governor Huckabee to reach 1,191 delegates through the remaining Primaries and Caucuses, he can deny Senator McCain his needed delegates, and send the nomination fight to the Republican National Convention.
On the Democratic side, Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama face a tight contest that could make Texas one of the most pivotal contests in selecting the nominee for their Party. Political pundits are all but certain that Senator Clinton must win Texas and Ohio, which also holds its Primary on March 4, to stay viable.
Just as the fight for the respective nominations is significantly different so is the process for selecting the delegates.
For the Republicans, there are 140 delegates at stake with 41 awarded based on the statewide vote, and 96 awarded through each of the 32 congressional districts, and three uncommitted delegates. If a candidate wins a majority of the statewide vote and a majority of the vote in each congressional district then that candidate would receive all but the three uncommitted delegates. However, if neither McCain, Huckabee, and lets us not forget Congressman Ron Paul, fail to win a majority, then the delegates are awarded proportionally to each candidate receiving at least 20 percent of the vote.
For the Democrats, the process is more complicated with 228 total delegates available, but only 126 of those delegates are awarded in the Primary on March 4. And, instead of equally spreading these delegates across the state's 32 congressional districts, these 126 delegates are apportioned by the state's 31 senatorial districts. Another 67 delegates are selected through the state convention process later on, with the remainder of total delegates known as super delegates based on their position or service to the Democratic Party.
The Texas Primary is proving to be pivotal for both the Republicans and Democrats in either securing the nomination or living to fight another day. One thing is for sure; Texas becomes a major player in selecting the next President of the United States starting February 19 and will hold that distinction until November 4 when the nation comes together for the General Election.
State Senator Craig Estes (Wichita Falls-R) represents Senate District 30 comprised of Archer, Baylor, Clay, Cooke, part of Collin, part of Denton, Grayson, Jack, Montague, Palo Pinto, Parker, Shackelford, Stephens, Throckmorton, Wilbarger, Wise, Wichita, and Young counties.