Thursday, April 23, 2009

Texas Frontloading Bill Goes Public

Last week FHQ happened upon a bill in the Texas House that would move the Lone Star state's presidential primary (and all other primaries) from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February in 2012. Given the widespread adoption of that particular date by a host of states prior to 2008, this still doesn't qualify as big news.

What's more is that Texas has done this before, moving from May to March for the Southern Super Tuesday in 1988. However, the state maintained that position for each of the elections between 1988 and 2000. Prior to 2004, the legislature moved to shift the primary up from the second week in March to the first week in March, but later postponed that move until 2008. Texas, then, technically just frontloaded its presidential primary for 2008 and is eying a more substantial move for 2012.

Well, parts of the Texas legislature are eying such a move. As I said last week, the bill -- HB 246 -- is a Democratic sponsored bill in a Republican dominated state government. In this case, though, the in-party (the state GOP) is the party that will have the contested nomination race in 2012. Whether that actually causes state Republicans to act is beside the point. The real issue is that the Republicans in control have at least some motivation to move the largest red state inthe US to a more advantageous position for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination race.

And now, some of these Republicans may begin to hear about the virtues of such a move from a group other than their Democratic colleagues in the state capitol. No, HB 246 hasn't been passed -- the bill is still in committee -- but there will be a public hearing held for it and a whole laundry list of other proposed elections legislation on Monday, April 27. HB 246 is first on the agenda though.

Of course, being that this hearing is happening on a Monday, that it is one amongst a bevy of other bills, and that this is not a time (right after an election) when the public is particularly concerned with the next election, we may not see much action on HB 246. I suspect that on one side, someone representing the local elections officials, who would most be put out by the shift (deadlines and elections preparation would be pushed over into the previous year), would be in attendance as would potentially some conservative groups (on the other side of the issue) interested in insuring that Texas Republican voters have a say in who the national party's nominee will be.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see what, if any, testimony is offered on Monday concerning moving the Lone Star state's presidential primary for 2012. I'll keep you posted as the hearing's details become available.

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